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Cornel West on Occupy Wall Street

AMY GOODMAN: So, what do you say to people about what’s happening with Occupy Wall Street, and what you feel, talking to people here, are the key issueshere? CORNEL WEST: Well, I think we’ve got to keep the momentum going because it’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening. We’re talking about raising political consciousness, so it spills over; all parts of the country so people can begin to see what’s going on through a different set of lens. And then you begin to highlight what the more detailed demands would be, because in the end we’re really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution; a transfer of power from oligarchs to every day people of all colors, and that is a step-by-step process. It’s a democratic process, it’s a non-violent process, but it is a revolution, because these oligarchs have been transferring wealth from poor and working people at a very intense rate in the last 30 years, and getting away with it, and then still smiling in our faces and telling us it’s our fault. That’s a lie, and this beautiful group is a testimony to that being a lie. When you get the makings of a U.S. autumn responding to the Arab Spring *, and is growing and growing—-I hope it spills over to San Francisco and Chicago and Miami and Phoenix, Arizona, with our brown brothers and sisters, hits our poor white brothers and sisters in Appalachia—-so. it begins to coalesce [come together as a whole]. And I tell you, it is sublime [beyond excellent; beautiful] to see all the different colors, all the different genders, all the different sexual orientations and different cultures, all together here in Liberty Plaza; there’s no doubt about it. AMY GOODMAN: Doesit surprise you, what you’re seeing right now? CORNEL WEST: Well, not really. I knew there would be some moral outrage as a two party system begins to decay, and the mean-spiritedness of the Republicans moving more toward reactionary and quasi-fascist politics and the relative spinelessness of the Democratic Party, tied to oligarchs as well, but centrists, trying to hold off against the viscous right-wing politics of the Republican Party, but refusing to, in any way be progressive. And you heard brother Barack’s speech to the Black Caucusthe other day. March with me, condescending, insulting—AMY GOODMAN: Take off your bedroom slippers. CORNEL WEST: Disrespecting, stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. I tell my brother; he got to understand the genius about Marley. He called his group the Wailers, not the whiners. The Wailers were persons who cry for help but against the context of catastrophe. When Wall Street cried out for help, they got billions of dollars. Working people, poor people are crying for help. Whining is a cry of self pity, of a sentimental disposition. That’s not what’s happening in poor America. That’s not what’s happening in working class America and that’s, certainly, not what’s happening in black America. It’s high unemployment rates, two out of five black kids in poverty, that’s not whining, that’s not complaining, that’s legitimate critiques and legitimate grievances out of a genuine grief. So that I ask the president to apologize. He needs to ask for forgiveness. You don’t talk to people that way; I don’t care what color they are when they’re suffering, not at all, you see. But, most importantly, here, people are straightening their backs up. GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEADER: Mike check. GENERAL ASSEMBLY: Mike check.

Etc…. GENERAL ASSEMBLY LEADER: We are going to be starting... Our general assembly... We would like to... Start... With some words... From Cornel West... CORNEL WEST: There is a sweet spirit in this place. I hope you can feel the love and inspiration... Of those Sly Stone called every day people... Who take a stand with great courage... And compassion... Becausewe oppose... The greed of Wall Street oligarchs... And corporate plutocrats... Who squeezethe democratic juices... Out of this country... And other places around the world... I am so blessed to be here... You got me spiritually break-dancing on the way here... Becausewhen you bring folks together... Of all colors... And all cultures... And all Genders... And all sexual orientations... The elite will tremble in their boots... Yeah... And we will send a message... That this is the U.S. fall... Responding to the Arab Spring... And it’s going to hit Chicago... And Los Angeles... And Phoenix, Arizona... And A-Town, itself... Moving on to Detroit... We going to hit Appalachia... We going to hit the reservations with our red brothers and sisters... And Martin Luther King Jr. will smile from the grave... And say, we moving step by step... For what he called a revolution... And don’t be afraid to say revolution... Becausewe want a transfer of power... From the oligarchs... To ordinary citizens... Beginning with the poor children of all colors... And the orphans and the widows... And the elderly... And the working folk... That we connect the prison-industrial complex... With the military-industrial complex... With the Wall Street oligarchy complex... And the corporate-media complex... And the corporate-media multiplex.

So, I want to thank you and it’s a blessing to be a small part of this magnificent gathering. This is the general assembly, consecrated by your witness and your body and your mind. Yeah. God bless you. God bless you. God bless you.

(QUESTIONS ON NEXT PAGE) Cornel West on Occupy Wall Street PARAGRAPH3 Why is Cornel West calling this a revolution? What does he say will or needs to change? PARAGRAPH4 What does Mr. West note about all the different kinds of people involved in NYC.Name three placeshe hopes it will spread to? PARAGRAPH6 At the end of paragraph 5, Mr. West starts to explain how President Obama’sspeech to the Black Caucus was insulting and condescending becausehe told African Americans to quit crying and complaining. How does Cornel West defend ALL Americans? PARAGRAPH8 Based on what you saw in the news this past spring, what is the Arab Spring? Why does Cornel West call the occupation of Wall Street the “U.S. Fall”? Why does he call what’s going on in the U.S. right now a revolution? What do you think he means by: the military-industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, the Wall Street oligarchy complex, corporate media multiplex?

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