Community & Government

Black Love: A Love Like No Other

Professor Cornel West explains the significance of Black love in all its forms—art, culture, family, community, and dignity—and why, despite trauma, Black Americans continue to create freedom fighters to spread Black joy and win liberty for all.

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Topics include: Black Love is All Embracing

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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[MUSIC PLAYING] - I am brother Cornel West. I'm my mother's child, my daddy's kid. I come from the chocolate side of Sacramento, California, shaped by the West family at Shiloh Baptist Church. Went to Harvard College, Princeton University in Philosophy. Been so thoroughly, thoroughly blessed to teach at Union Theological Seminary and Princeton and Harvard, University of Paris, and Williams College. I've been blessed, published a number of texts. Texts like "Race Matters" or "Democracy Matters" or "The American Evasion of Philosophy," or "Prophetic Fragments," or "Prophesy Deliverance, An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity," or "Black Prophetic Fire." I'm about as blessed a Black brother as one could conceivably be. Well, the greatest gift, the greatest blessing, and the greatest joy in my life has been the Black love that I received from the late Clifton and the late Irene West. To be the second son in the West family with my brother Clifton and sister Cynthia and Cheryl, that's my first experience of the world. So that Black love is not some abstract thing. It is as real as a heart attack, as old as a rock in my life and as new as foam. And that is but one particular wave in the larger ocean of Black love. Black people at our best are great people, a world historical people precisely because, in the face of chronic systemic hatred, we have dished out, every generation, love warriors of the highest level of spiritual and moral excellence. Look at Harriet Tubman's love. 19 times going back in the belly of the white supremacist slavocratic beast. And yes, she did have a gun in her pocket. Look at Sojourner Truth's wisdom. Love of wisdom. Telling the truth about America. But she also told the truth about Black folk. She was critical of both. When you look at the history of Black people, it's hard to find other folk who have been so thoroughly terrorized for 400 years but keep dishing out freedom fighters who call for the freedom for everybody. Why was it the case that Black folk did not create a Black version of the Ku Klux Klan to say, you terrorize us, we'll terrorize you? No. Eye for an eye leaves us blind. A tooth for a tooth leaves us toothless. We're going to ascend to a higher moral and spiritual level. That's Frederick Douglass, the most eloquent ex-slave in the history of the world. What you got to say, brother Frederick Douglass? We want liberty for everybody. Could be the Irish against British colonialism. It could be for the Africans as they're wrestling with the encroaching European colonialism. It's for women against patriarchy. Frederick, you are expressing the highest levels of Black love. Think of the 400 years of Black people being traumatized day in and day out, week in and week out, yearly. And yet, we keep dishing out these wounded healers. Joy spreaders. Look at Louis Armstrong. He's not just a revolutionary genius in art. He's got joy in his soul. He's got love overflowing. Look...

About the Instructor

From critical race theory to the 1619 Project, Black intellectuals are reshaping conversations on race in America. Now seven of those preeminent voices share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future. Gain a foundational understanding of the history of white supremacy and discover a path forward through the limitless capacity and resilience of Black love.

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Angela Davis, Cornel West, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Sherrilyn Ifill, Jelani Cobb, and John McWhorter

Seven preeminent Black thought leaders share their insight on the reckoning with race in America in three parts: past, present, and future.

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