Tuesday, August 12, 2008

On Hope and Responsibility

Cornell West, Princeton professor, public theologion and cultural critic has a book that provides interesting insights into where we are in this society and how far we must go to achieve more justice and equity.

The book is called, Restoring Hope, a series of conversations between himself, politicians, activists and celebrities whose engagement in social change has been as significant as their contributions to popular culture.

The following excerpt from his conversation with Harry Belafonte is particularly interesting and has meant a great deal to me.

"The last time I spoke to Paul Robeson was at his home in Philadelphia. He was quite beat up by then, and broken, and quite ill.

"I talked to him about sacrifice. And I said to him, 'Paul, was it worth it? The price you paid with the House Un-American Activities, Committee, and what they did to you? The way all your colleagues in the black community, the black elite and the black intellectuals, how they distanced themselves from you? How they never sought to support you and to praise you? All that you've been through? Was the journey, in the final analysis, worth it?' And he said, 'Absolutely,' 'There may have been moments when things were painful,' he said, 'but even with the victories that we didn't achieve, the journey was worth it because I met so many magnificent men and women on the way who made it all worthwhile.' He said, 'However, there's one thing that I wish I had known then that I know now.' And I said, 'What is it?' He said, 'Harry, in the final analysis, every generation must be responsible for itself.'"

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