Dr. Cornel West, a professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University, will be speaking at Western on Feb. 19.

“He is coming to Western to share with us his extensive knowledge of black history, American history, theology, racism and democracy,” Black Student Union president Dennis Williams Jr. said. “He will elaborate on these subjects while making in relevant to our community at large.”

According to Williams, Dr. West has published 17 books and has edited 13 other texts, including his 1993 bestseller, “Race Matters.” The book is a searing analysis of racism in American democracy and has become a contemporary classic, Williams said.

West has been a champion for racial justice since childhood. His writing, speaking, and teaching weave together the traditions of the Baptist Church and progressive politics. His books have dealt with such topics as the history of racism, the decay of moral and religious life in the United States, persistent unemployment for black people despite economic booms, the issues that black music and black culture play in the struggles for freedom and the United States' consumption with profit. West has received many awards, including The New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 1993, Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year in 1993 and the Critics Choice Award of the American Educational Studies Association.

According to the “Dictionary of Literary Biography; Twentieth-Century American Cultural Theorists,” West is a leading author, philosopher and social critic on race and culture. He graduated from Harvard University with an undergraduate degree and went on to Princeton for his graduate studies. West is also the honorary chairman for the Democratic Societies of America. According to the biography, many think of West as a realist thinker whose ideas are influence by the Chekovian thought as well as African American Christianity. The biography also says that West considers himself to be a type of non-Marxist socialist.

The discussion at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19 will take place at the Performing Arts Center Main Stage. and will cost $6 for Western students with ID and $15 for general tickets.

“There will be an opening act by poet, author and educator Melissa Noel Greene followed by a lecture from Dr. West,” Williams said. “This will be concluded with question and answer from the audience.”

West came to Western in 1998 as a speaker in the Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series and discussed problems facing the African-American urban underclass, the development of an ongoing dialogue between blacks and Jews, and the creation of a nationwide parents' movement across race and class, according to the lecture archives.

According to Williams, when West last came to campus the event sold Carver Gym completely out.

“Truthfully, this very well could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for many of us,” Williams said. “We have the chance to soak up the knowledge of one of the most influential people of our time. This community is hungry for the gifts that Dr. West will share with us on Febuary 19.”