Dr. Cornel West, professor emeritus, Princeton University, really brought the American vision home this week. “We all have a commitment to humanity,” West said. The discussion primarily covered the struggles and hardships of minority groups in American, but it was the love and generosity of the discussion that echoed more loudly. Yes, our nation pressed forward with the emancipation, and yes we acquired more civil liberties for African Americans through the civil rights movement, but we’re not finished. As a nation we still have a lot of work left to do. With demographics drastically changing it’s imperative that we not lose sight of what we are working toward, and also not lose sight of developing issues. Travis Smiley, host of The Travis Smiley Show on PBS, spoke of America’s homeless population, which has become a priority issue for state and federal government leaders. It’s disturbing that America’s homeless population is on a continuous rise and even more upsetting that children are victims of this awful state of being.
I was really inspired by Dr. West and I’d like to say/write that sitting in on a live discussion between Travis Smiley and Dr. West was the highlight of my Washington Center experience. Dr. West reminded me that it is undoubtedly wrong to deny reality, history, and memory. We must not forget where we came from in order to understand the direction that we are headed, whether individually or as a nation. Smiley mentioned the so called 11th commandment, “Thou shall not get caught.” Well, as a nation we’ve been caught. We’ve reached the point where we can no longer causally turn away from our impoverished populous. I will never forget Dr. West’s words, “Ask for forgiveness, not permission.” Forgiveness constitutes a responsibility and dedication to change. I only hope that we as a nation can change and for the better.