Dr. Cornel West spoke at Mountain View Community Church in Fontana, January 13th for a Dr. Martin Luther Jr. program. The event began with a Louisiana style jazz band entrance complete with swaying, clapping and dancing that transported us from Fontana, CA to a southern church - roots and rhythm, culture bound on a journey to better. We were unified, energized and ready.
But first there was church and church, dignitaries, honoraries, the Mayor of Fontana - regal yet down to earth. Peace be still. Vanessa Bell Armstrong graced the pulpit and sang Peace Be Still! Pouring out from her core, the power and depth of spirit rose from an intimate connection with the Infinite and filled the room with a joy and peace that passes understanding.
... and Dr. Cornel West ascended the pulpit to deliver a message on love and grace, reminding us that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s mission did not end with the death of Jim Crow. He informs us that Dr. King protested the Vietnam War and fought for housing for the poor. King’s mission wasn’t limited to the equality in law for people of color, but it was to elevate all of mankind to a higher call. For his continued non-violent, eloquent fight for justice he began to lose popularity and support and was criticized when whites and blacks thought that his mission and vision was too broad - not race specific. Dr. West, like Dr. King urged us to remember that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
I had heard variations of this riveting message on YouTube before but in person the atmosphere was charged with centuries of souls speaking from a communal well of, “uh um - brief chirps of laughter and thoughtful mmm’s.” And when it was over we applauded and lingered. He stayed and shook hands, embraced, listened to and talked with everyone who approached him - so much so, his attention was a rolling compass. His humanity and what he preaches is evident in his manner and care. Magnanimity is one of those words Dr. West uses frequently and to hear him speak in person, it is easy to understand why.