MSU Concludes "Slavery To Freedom" Lecture Series With Speaker Dr. Cornel West

Feb 25, 2021

Thursday, the Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine presents the final event of the 2021 Dr. William G. Anderson Lecture Series, “Slavery To Freedom.”  Due to COVID-19, the event will be conducted virtually. Closing the series today is author, professor and social justice advocate Dr. Cornel West.

WKAR’s Kevin Lavery speaks with Dr. Marita Gilbert, the associate dean of diversity and campus inclusion at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. 

 

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Interview Highlights

On The “Conversational Journey” Of Talking With Dr. Cornel West

One thing I have learned about Dr. West is you can't really predict what we will get. What I love about him is that he has been someone who has always offered both historical perspective and analysis and a cultural critique. Even if you just have a conversation with Dr. West, you will leave feeling as if you have been taken on a journey; whether that’s a conversation about voting rights or social justice or soul music, Dr. West is going to take you on a journey, which is going to connect all these different threads. At the end, you’ll feel like you've been on like a world tour.

  

Interview Transcript

Dr. Marita Gilbert:

One thing I have learned about Dr. West is you can't really predict what we will get. What I love about him is that he has been someone who has always offered both historical perspective and analysis and a cultural critique. Even if you just have a conversation with Dr. West, you will leave feeling as if you have been taken on a journey; whether that’s a conversation about voting rights or social justice or soul music, Dr. West is going to take you on a journey, which is going to connect all these different threads. At the end, you’ll feel like you've been on like a world tour.

What I do know about him, he talks a lot about really bringing to any conversation, this idea of love…and for him to love the community is to be very clear, to be very honest, and to articulate what the issues are.

 

Kevin Lavery: 

You know, that's a word we haven't heard in the media for a long time: love.

 

Gilbert: 

We're in a moment right now that doesn't feel very loving.  It doesn't feel like much is centered on love or a love that is not a touchy feely, romanticized concept of what that is. So, what I love about Dr. West is like he often holds any audience to task; whether it’s asking people, if you really believe in love, could you be someone who systemically inhibits an entire gender? How does that work? If you are someone who claims to follow certain faith traditions, do your behaviors honor the values that you claim to espouse? If you claim to be someone who is working for the empowerment, the success, the thriving of a particular community, would I be able to look at the way that you hold yourself, the places where you are present and those where you are not and see that as loving? I think that that is a much different perspective.

I also think that sometimes when people hear like him talk about love, they think of it as this mushy kind of feeling or romanticized kind of feeling. It’s really about having enough respect, enough value for people, for communities and even for institutions to say, this is not working. We require you to do something better. Here are a couple of suggestions, but you can do some work, and then we're going to come back and see if there's been any adaptation.

 

Lavery: 

Dr. Cornell West's lecture begins this afternoon at 5 p.m.  How can people participate?

 

Gilbert: 

Our series is virtual this year.  We require that all of our participants register, and they can do that at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine website. They can register also on our Facebook page.  We’ll keep the registration open until the event starts and then we will shut it down.  However, because we understand (that) working virtually…everybody isn't free at the same time. So, we will have provided links after the live stream so that people can view it again later.