We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Last month, Cornel West made headlines when he once again called out President Barack Obama for failing to keep his progressive promises. “We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency,” West told Salon’s Thomas Frank. The outspoken public intellectual often speaks of his disenchantment with Obama, but West isn’t trying to take down the president. He just wants us to expect more from our leaders and get our facts straight. West’s newest book, Black Prophetic Fire, is an exercise in debunking myths—specifically, myths about great black Americans, including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Ida B. Wells. The “Santaclausification” of the radical Martin Luther King, Jr., the marginalization of Ella Baker, and the demonization of Malcolm X are all examples of what West calls “public amnesia” and a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of history. But what West fears most is that the “black prophetic fire” that created so many courageous and radical African-American leaders in the 19th and 20th centuries is disappearing, to the detriment of Americans of all races. No wonder West has been so frustrated with the middle-ground-seeking “Brother Barack Obama.” Oct. 16 at Busboys and Poets 5th & K. Free.