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Zachery R. Williams

African American philosopher, public intellectual, theologian, and activist. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cornel West was raised the grandson of a Baptist minister. The influences of the black church made an indelible impact on his emerging consciousness. In his youth, he obtained a reputation as highly intelligent and outspoken regarding matters of inequality.

As an adolescent growing up in Sacramento, California, West came under the influence of the Black Panther Party. It was during this crucial period in West's maturation that he acquired his abiding interest in democratic socialism. Early on, he came to view black progress through a global lens. Among the parallel influences on West were the writings and activities of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Medgar Wylie Evers. There was no doubt in the eyes of many that West was on his way to becoming a scholar-activist.

In 1970 ...