Cornel West to Visit Campus

KELI VITAIOLI

vitaioli@grinnel.edu

As the highly anticipated Democratic caucus draws nearer, reaching out to voters becomes more and more important. Dr. Cornel West, a renowned American scholar of race, gender and class and a prominent activist, is set to attend the College this Saturday, Nov. 14, at 1 p.m. in Sebring-Lewis Hall. West recently announced his endorsement of Bernie Sanders as a presidential candidate. This event is being co-hosted by Grinnellians for Bernie Sanders, Concerned Black Students (CBS), the African Caribbean Student Union (ACSU) and the Student Organization of Latinas and Latinos (SOL).

The event, while open to all students, aims to reach out to minority students and increase understanding of the correlation between racial inequality and income inequality. 

“Cornel West can give a good concrete idea about why Bernie’s plan for reforming the United States government would be most effective in helping disadvantaged communities to rise and overcome their obstacles,” said Dhruv Gupta ’17, who worked to bring West to campus.

The Sanders’ campaign reached out to Grinnellians for Bernie Sanders and asked if they could house a large enough turnout for West’s speech. The goals of the event include demonstrating the benefits of Sanders’ plan and expanding his connections to minority communities. 

West’s talk will have a strong emphasis on capitalism and the role it has played historically in developing structural inequality in America. The event will feature a speech by West as well as student-directed question and answer period.

“Students should approach it with a very open mind,” Gupta said. “The reason you go to these events is to be more informed and know how you are going to vote.” 

West will also speak to the ways in which racial inequality places minorities at an economically disadvantaged position.

Anita Dewit ’17, a leader of Concerned Black Students, also spoke about the significance of bringing Cornel West to campus, especially in light of recent events at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

“Bringing Cornel West is so incredible … it would be something that would really just uplift our spirits. Right now students are pretty down about a variety of things and having someone come and know that they’ve already done it … that’s nice to see,” Dewit said.

While the event does aim to educate young voters, its larger goal is to bring more people from minority communities to the Bernie Sanders campaign and understand how he hopes to work with them and further their advancement. 

“We get to convert those people into potential supporters, potential volunteers, and do whatever we can to help Bernie get elected,” Gupta said.