“Social changes come from young folk”: Dr. Cornel West visits UVU’s 30th MLK commemoration week 

Reading Time: 2 minutes UVU celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement last week with the ‘Dream Again, March Forward’ event where keynote speaker Dr. Cornel West spoke to the community about his legacy and more.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

On Jan. 15, America celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., and UVU continued to commemorate it throughout last week, ending with Dr. Cornel West speaking in the Grand Ballroom on Jan. 18 to students and the local community.  

The event continued with breakout speakers from around Utah to continue the discussion, each a representative of Dr. King’s Beloved Community Awards. The event ended with endnote speaker Jazzi McGilbert, a renowned education activist.  

West is currently an Independent presidential candidate who graduated from Harvard in 1970 and later went on to become a professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at the university. He also studied and received an M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton. He has written twenty books and edited thirteen, his most recent “Black Prophetic Fire.” West announced his presidential run back in June 2023 with the Green Party, before leaving last October.  

Dr. Cornel West was full of energy throughout his speech, offering insights into MLK’s life and struggles. He spoke on the history of slavery and the injustice of African Americans in the U.S. Renowned as a philosopher, he approached the discussion with questions that he encouraged the audience to ask themselves. Community was a major aspect of his speech, focusing on how MLK Jr. cultivated a community of love and inclusion, stating, “Any society that does not cultivate love cannot serve itself.” He continues this thought by telling students that they must question themselves as they look toward the future, as he believes without this, we cannot ask “how we can reintroduce the best of America to ourselves.”  

In the Q&A section, the presenter asked if he believes students are able to have cultural, social, and revolutionary change. Dr. West replied, “Usually social changes come from young folk. Every major movement was disproportionately young.” He stated that campaigns such as the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-transphobia movements begin with university-aged people. Education was another of his major speaking points: “Education at its deepest level is learning how to get you to have the courage to let certain assumptions and predisposition you had go.”  

If students would like to view the full keynote speech, it is available on the UVU Studio YouTube Channel. For more coverage of MLK Commemoration Week, visit The Review Website.