Cornel West Quotes About Life, Love and Justice

Cornel West is a well-known American philosopher, social critic, and political activist. He is renowned for his profound analysis and passionate commentary on matters pertaining to racial justice, democracy, and political ideology. For more than three decades, West has been a prominent voice in public discourse and the author of more than 20 books. He is frequently referred to as a contemporary prophet, and many people have been motivated to consider the world around them critically by his words and ideas.

We’ll look at some of Cornel West’s most inspiring and thought-provoking quotes in this blog post and consider their applicability to society today. Cornel West’s writings continue to push us to consider the world we live in and our place in it carefully, whether it be through his reflections on justice and freedom or his critiques of American politics and culture.

60 Cornel West Quotes

Cornel West Quotes
  1. “I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.”

2. “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”

3. “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people. You can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.”

4. “This market way of life promotes addictions to stimulation and obsessions with comfort and convenience.”

Cornel West  gift Quote

5. “All you have is a gift a to give.”

 suffering quote

6. “You must let suffering speak, if you want to hear the truth”

Cornel West Quote on justice

7. “Justice is what Love looks like in public.”

can’t move forward until you look back quote

8. “You can’t move forward until you look back.”

Cornel West Quote on courage

9. “Courage is being true to yourself, true to a sense of integrity.”

10. “Too many young folk have addiction to superficial things and not enough conviction for substantial things like justice, truth and love.”

Famous Cornel West Quotes

11. “Faith is stepping out on nothing and landing on something.”

12. “The aim of a constitutional democracy is to safeguard the rights of the minority and avoid the tyranny of the majority.”

13. “You have to have a habitual vision of greatness.” 

14. “We have to recognise that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love, patience, persistence.”

15. “We’ve forgotten that a rich life consists fundamentally of serving others, trying to leave the world a little better than you found it.”

16. “Life without meaning, hope, and love breeds a coldhearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys the individual and others.”

17. “As long as you’re scared you’re on the plantation.”

18. “To be humble is to be so sure of one’s self and one’s mission that one can forego calling excessive attention to one’s self and status.”

19. “Be willing to learn, because none of us know the truth.”

18. “There is a price to pay for speaking the truth. There is a bigger price for living a lie.”

19. “Justice is what love looks like in public, just like tenderness is what love feels like in private.”

Thought-Provoking Cornel West Quotes

20. “To be human you must bear witness to justice.”

21. “Anger can be a bitterness that devours your soul while righteous indignation is morally driven, it’s ethically driven.”

22. “Education is soul crafting.”

23. “Each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.” 

24. “I must feel the fire of my soul so my intellectual blues can set others on fire.” 

prisoner of hope Cornel West Quote

25. “I cannot be an optimist but I am a prisoner of hope.”

26. “To be a Christian is to live dangerously, honestly, freely – to step in the name of love as if you may land on nothing, yet to keep on stepping because the something that sustains you no empire can give you and no empire can take away.”

27. “To be great in our times too often means to have great prosperity and no moral magnanimity at all.”

28. “Homophobia is very, very difficult to root out, to extricate. That’s why we have to bear witness. That’s why we have to be so public about it, and that’s why we can’t just play footsie with it.”

29. “When ordinary people wake up, elites begin to tremble in their boots.”

Cornel West Quotes On Justice (Must Read)

30. “Every empire suffers from hubris, arrogance and condescension, and therefore a moral blindness. That’s true of the American empire, it was true of the British Empireearlier, and it will certainly be true of the Chinese Empire in the future.”

31. “We need serious strategic and tactical thinking about how to create new models of leadership and forge the kind of persons to actualize these models.”

32. “Anytime two human beings find genuine pleasure, joy, and love, the stars smile and the universe is enriched.”

33. “You’ve got to be a thermostat rather than a thermometer. A thermostat shapes the climate of opinion; a thermometer just reflects it.”

34. “The paradox of race in America is that our common destiny is more pronounced and imperiled precisely when our divisions are deeper.”

Cornel West love Quote

35. “I am who I am because somebody loved me.”

36. “You work through race, you don’t deny race. It’s the difference between being color-blind and love-struck. You see, if I love you, I don’t need to eliminate your whiteness. If you love me, you don’t need to eliminate my blackness. You embrace humanity.”

37. “I have tried to be a man of letters in love with ideas in order to be a wiser and more loving person, hoping to leave the world just a little better than I found it.”

38. “Patriarchy is a disease and we are in perennial recovery and relapse. So you have to get up every morning and struggle against it.”

39. “Yet an obsession with white racism often comes at the expense of more broadly based alliances to affect social change and borders on tribal mentality.”

40. “The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark.” 

Short Cornel West Quotes

41. “I’m sure I’ve had my phone tapped for years, I don’t think it’s a crime against humanity they just ought to quit doing it, god damn it.”

42. “As long as hope remains and meaning is preserved, the possibility of overcoming oppression stays alive.”

43. “I prefer to be hope rather than talk about hope.”

44. “All individuals have the same value, not to be determined by market price. They’re made in the image and likeness of God.”

45. “Empathy is not simply a matter of trying to imagine what others are going through but having the will to muster enough courage to do something about it. In a way, empathy is predicated upon hope.”

46. “To live is to wrestle with despair, yet never allow despair to have the last word.”

47. “Without the presence of black people in America, European-Americans would not be “white”– they would be Irish, Italians, Poles, Welsh, and other engaged in class, ethnic, and gender struggles over resources and identity.”

48. “There’s a certain pleasure of the life of the mind that cannot be denied. There’s a certain pleasure about being around people who enact a playfulness when it comes to the world of ideas.”

49. “There is something about boldness and fearlessness and being free enough to speak what is on one’s mind that warrants freedom.”

Cornel West Quotes on Discipline and Courage

50. “Music is what we need when language fails us, but we cannot remain silent.”

51. “To accept your country without betraying it, you must love it for that which shows what it might become.” 

52. “It takes tremendous discipline, takes tremendous courage, to think for yourself, to examine yourself.”

53. “The powerful have no monopoly on greed, hatred, fear, or ignorance.”

54. “Love is fundamentally a death of an old self that was isolated and the emergence of a new self now entangled with another self, the self that you fall in love with.”

 tenderness quote

55. “We have to be militants for kindness, subversive for sweetness and radicals for tenderness.”

56. “Love and trust and justice, concern for the poor, that’s being pushed to the margins, and you can see it.”

57. “And as a Christian, I got something the world didn’t give me, the world can’t take away, so I find joy that can never be reduced to anything.”

58. “The only countervailing force against organized money at the top, is organized people at the bottom.”

59. “Addiction is the dominant form of a culture that suffers from a superficial spectacle and celebrity-connectivity at its center. It’s a form of spiritual emptiness.”

60. “Sometime you just need to be silent, have a drink and crack a smile or somethin’, because the human condition, in general, is just overwhelming in so many ways.”

Additional Read: About Dr. Cornel West

Cornel West is a well-known American philosopher, political activist, and social critic. He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 2, 1953. West is renowned for his eloquent writings and lectures on social justice, politics, and race.

West grew up in Sacramento, California, in a working-class family. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University. At prestigious universities like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and the University of Paris, West has held leadership positions.

West writes primarily about racial issues, justice, and democracy. He is an advocate of critical theory, which looks at the effects of social norms and power structures on individuals and groups. He has written a great deal on subjects like religion, African American studies, and racial relations.

In addition to his scholarly work, West is a political activist and a prominent public intellectual. He has taken part in a number of social justice movements, such as the Occupy Wall Street movement, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Civil Rights movement.

West is the author of many books, including “Race Matters,” “Democracy Matters,” and “Black Prophetic Fire.” 

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