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Cornel West will talk about black education crisis — and probably much more

Cornel West speaks with Tavis Smiley during the 2008 Miami Book Fair International at Miami Dade College. West is giving a talk in North Miami to kick off the city’s Black History Month events.
Cornel West speaks with Tavis Smiley during the 2008 Miami Book Fair International at Miami Dade College. West is giving a talk in North Miami to kick off the city’s Black History Month events. Miami Herald File

Scholar and civil rights activist Cornel West is coming to North Miami on Friday to discuss education — and likely much more — as the city kicks off programming for Black History Month.

The focus of the discussion, at North Miami Senior High, will be “The Crisis in Black Education,” a theme for the city’s Black History Month events.

West, 63, is a scholar in several subjects, including race, African-American and civil rights history, politics, philosophy and theology. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years and went on to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate in philosophy from Princeton.

The New York Times reported in November that he will return to teaching at Harvard University and Harvard Divinity School for the first time since 2002. West was also a professor at Union Theological Seminary and Princeton. He has written more than 20 books, including his most recent book, “Black Prophetic Fire.”

Councilman Alix Desulme, one of the organizers of the city’s Black History Month programming, said when city leaders decided on the theme, West was the perfect fit.

“I’ve heard him speak several times, and if you’ve heard him, I don’t think anyone coming to this should expect anything less from the scholar,” Desulme said.

In recent years, West has become known for his criticism of former President Barack Obama, whom he said did not pay enough attention to the black middle class. In a 2011 interview with the website Truthdig, he described Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs.”

“There is a lot of interest in the community. There’s folks who like him and a lot of folks who didn’t like him criticizing President Obama,” Desulme said.

City leaders anticipate he’ll also talk about President Donald Trump’s first two weeks in office.

“I am hoping that he kind of tailors it for the kids and kind of scales it down to their level,” Desulme said.

It’s the first event in the city’s slate of Black History Month celebrations which also includes a new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art featuring the work of Jean Claude Legagneur, the monthly Jazz at MOCA series later in the month and a concert featuring Doug E. Fresh, Chubb Rock and Deniece Williams.

More information on the event and tickets can be found on the city’s website.

Lance Dixon: 305-376-3708, @LDixon_3

If You Go

▪ What: Cornel West’s lecture on “The Crisis in Black Education”

▪ When: 1 p.m., Friday (Doors open at 11 a.m.)

▪ Where: North Miami Senior High, 13110 NE Eighth Ave.

▪ Tickets and details: Free, information on the city’s website and via Eventbrite

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