Prime Pick

Prime Pick

Acclaimed scholar Cornel West discusses ‘The New Jim Crow’ and other hot-button topics at All Saints Church Sunday

By Carl Kozlowski 01/30/2013

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Cornel West has been many things in his illustrious, multi-textured career: a world-famous Princeton professor, author of 19 best-selling controversial books (including “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters”), an in-demand pundit on shows ranging from HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” to Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” and even a rapper with three spoken-word albums to his credit.
 
But one thing West has never been is shy about his viewpoints, as evidenced just last week when he attacked President Obama after the inauguration by saying, “President Obama doesn’t deserve to be sworn in with Martin Luther King Jr.’s Bible.” 
 
That stinging rebuke came as he critiqued Obama for actions as president which he believes are in direct contradiction to the principles and beliefs of King. And at 10:15 a.m. Sunday, West will be bringing his fiery rhetoric to the Rector’s Forum at All Saints Church in discussing the controversial best seller by Michelle Alexander, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” 
 
Alexander’s book has taken book charts and political pundit shows by storm, as she argues that mass incarceration in America functions as a system of racial control in much the same way that Jim Crow laws once operated. The difference is that now, she believes the problem is more insidious and harder to change, because it is rooted in racial indifference rather than racial hatred. 
 
Alexander has been studying these issues since starting her legal career as a law clerk for US Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun. She’s had an illustrious career herself since then as a civil rights advocate and litigator, including serving for several years as the director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, where she spearheaded the national campaign against racial profiling. 
 
As the recipient of a 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship, Alexander was able to fund the research needed to write “Jim Crow.” She currently holds a joint appointment at the Moritz College of Law and Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. 
 
While Alexander won’t be in attendance at West’s discussion of her book, he should provide plenty of verbal fireworks to keep the morning filled with intriguing takes on hot-button topics. Copies of Alexander’s books and many of West’s own works will be on sale at All Saints Church throughout the morning, including its 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. services. n

Cornel West will discuss “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander at 10:15 a.m. Sunday at the Rector’s Forum of All Saints  Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena. Admission is free. Call (626) 796-1172. 

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