West, Cornel(1953– ) educator, philosopher; born in Sacramento, Calif. Educated at Harvard and New York's Union Theological Seminary, he became a noted writer and speaker on what he called "prophetic pragmatism," a philosophy that sought to fuse the life of the mind with public affairs in the areas of racial oppression, sexism, violence, and homophobia. His books include The American Evasion of Philosophy (1985) and Race Matters (1993). In 1988 he became director of the highly regarded African-American Studies program at Princeton University.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.