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Cornel West

Once Professor of Divinity and Afro-American studies at Harvard (he has since moved to Princeton), Cornel West is a compelling orator, an acute philosopher, and a progressive visionary. He has held forth in several books on the problem of evil and the power of democracy as a transfigurative force. Unlike most Harvard academics, he was a vocal presence in the undergraduate community and a strong and constant advocate of progressive causes in and around campus. Of all my teachers at Harvard, I can think of no other who so passionately and articulately explained democracy as a spiritual force.

I particularly take to heart his understanding of "existential democracy," being the belief that the Heroic and the Tragic resides within each and every citizen of the polity. In other words, existential democracy is a faith in common man, the willingness to approach every other citizen with a gracious heart and open mind. (In essence, it is not far removed from the Golden Rule.) Although I'm afraid I still lapse on occasion (crowded subway cars, etc.), I now earnestly try to cultivate this existential democracy in my own life.

In sum, Mr. West is an impassioned minister of the democratic pulpit and a strong advocate of the Progressive vision.

Head due West.

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