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LVC Student Has Opportunity to Meet Civil Rights Activist Cornel West
02.26.13 |
As a philosophy, American studies, and English literature triple major, Marquis Bey ’14 has a wide array of interests. So when he had the opportunity to meet someone who embodied all of those interests, he jumped on the chance.

“I have a great relationship with Dr. [Jeff] Robbins (chair of religion and philosophy),”Bey said. “He told me about a conference he was a part of at the Union Theological Seminary at Colombia University in New York City. He asked me if I wanted to go. He knew Cornel West would be there and knowing my interests in African-American literature and theology, he thought I might be interested.”

Dr. Cornel West, a graduate of both Harvard and Princeton universities and an influential member of the civil rights movement has written nearly 20 books and is a higly regarded public intellectual. He is passionate about keeping the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. alive and Bey has read many of his works.

West was on the panel of critics for Robbin’s newest coauthored book, “Religion, Politics And The Earth: The New Materialism.” Robbins didn’t know with positivity that Bey would have an opportunity to actually meet West, but he knew Bey would enjoy being in his presence either way.

Bey thought he nearly blew his chance for either opportunity after getting lost in the city during his trip.

“When catching the subway, I headed downtown instead of uptown, causing me to be a little late,” Bey said. He was pleasantly surprised when he entered the meeting to find that they hadn’t yet started. “I guess they run on New York time and they didn’t start until 15 minutes late anyways,” Bey joked.

When the discussion ended, Robbins stood up and waved Bey over to introduce him to West. Bey reached out to shake West’s hand and he was instead greeted with a hug.

“I was on cloud nine; he called me ‘brother Marquis’,” Bey said. “He is so personable and humble even though he is so articulate, erudite, and learned.”

The best part of the experience wasn’t only meeting West, but actually networking with him.

“West came over to me and said, ‘We need to get together’ then wrote his phone number on my hand,” Bey said.

Bey plans to attend graduate school for African American literature and is interested in networking with West to gain insight on his career path.

“I want to reach his level of intelligence and scholarship. I want his advice as to what I should do to become that accomplished in something I’m really interested in,” Bey said.

“I’ll never be Cornel West, nor would I ever try to be, but I can strive to be the best that I can be,” Bey concluded.

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