I spent all of Sunday reading and finishing Cornel West’s memoirs because of the intrigue and to be ready for meeting him for his book signing today. For a man of such depth and magnitude, his writings has always been accessible. I typically do not read memoirs, but this was Cornel West we are talking about! I first started learning about Cornel West when I used to work at a bookstore where the assistant manager, who was a huge fan of West, introduced me to his work. Being a sociology major that he was, he lent me Black Reconstruction by W.E.B DuBois, I read the entire text and told me about Cornel West. And coincidentally a little while later, Dr. West’s latest book at the time was Democracy Matters.
I literally burned through the book. I have always been a quick and comprehending reader. So by the time my shift ended I was nearly finished reading the text. It was riveting and intellectually stirring. At that time I was a little wishy washy with my graduate school ideas, but after reading Democracy Matters, I realized I needed to really focus. Just like how West was seriously impressed by his professor, Professor Kilson, and his friend’s professor Sir Clair Drake to become a professor, I was impressed and moved by West’s writings. I soon after sought his previous writings, Race Matters, Keeping Faith, and Hope on a Tightrope, he has written more which I need to purchase and mentally consume.
At that point, I thought to myself, yeah, Cornel West really makes being a professor a magical thing! I have already been awe struck by some of my professors at Rutgers, but it really was West’s writings that had me gunning for graduate school and to become a professor. Even though, today, that is not my focus, I spent a good three years, happily chasing after the dream.
In any case, I finished his memoirs late last night. I didn’t know how focused the man was! His entire life, he had such focus and passion for his work that everything came second to his life’s pursuit of knowledge and teaching! Holy moly! Reading it, I realized too, that I too have the same mentality, career first everything else is second. But those days, are hopefully changed to incorporating career and life. He loved all his wives, but because of his passion and focus on his intellectual curiosity those relationships drifted apart. The bluesman really hit the blues.
Family, encouragement, love, and his faith played a huge role in shaping his life. Even though I am a photographer, Cornel West will always be one of my driving force to excel in my given path. :]
So today at about 4:30 PM, I will hopefully see the bluesman professor in person to have his signature on his latest writing.