By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
The iconic professor Dr. Cornel West Sunday said the older Black generation has failed today’s youth because they have left them “dangling” in a sea of forgetfulness and bereft of their own Black history.
In introducing his long-time friend, Father Michael L. Pfleger Sunday thanked iconic Professor Dr. Cornel West for being “consistent in truth, justice and freedom,” and asked him to never stop telling the truth for his voice is needed today.
Saying West “has a passion to invite a variety of people from all walks of life into his life and world of ideas to keep alive the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a legacy of telling truth, of bearing witness to love and to justice,” Pfleger said West Preaches unashamedly about the power of the cross and the cost of discipleship.
“Understand if you’re going to be true to the gospel, you got to be willing to hang on the cross, said Pfleger. “Part of the crucifixion of being true to truth, justice and love is understanding there will be those always who will try to marginalize…discredit you. There are few people who really speak truth.
“There are a whole lot who perpetrate depending upon the moment and what is easy for them at that moment to speak whoever they are speaking to, but when you’re speaking the same thing no matter who you’re speaking to and where you’re at because it’s in your DNA, it will cost you,” said Pfleger.
Referring to many of West’ critics, Pfleger said that he is “stuck in the 60’s…when you fought for justice…fought against racism…injustice and inequality…. When you tell somebody you’re stuck in the 60’s, it’s like telling a Christian you’re stuck on Calvary…stuck on Jesus…stuck on the gospel.
“Dr. King and Dr. West remind us truth, justice, freedom, Calvary, Jesus, the gospels, the blood and the love of God don’t have expiration dates and they don’t have term limits. Either you believe in it, are willing to die for it or shut up perpetrating and talking about it …. I thank you Dr. West….”
After acknowledging many people present including John Rogers from Arial Investments, West said to know Black history you must “be in contact with what went before so in those chains you can hear the voices of Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass…those who are anonymous and nameless but who stood up, straighten their backs up” and faced “American terrorism called U.S. slavery.
“That’s the Black history of anti-terrorism. It’s dealing with physical…social…psychic terrorism and right now for young folk its not just economics, not just social, not just educational. It’s spiritual terrorism. Their souls are being shrunk…pulled out. They no longer want to stand up…because they are bombarded every day with corporate music, bombarded with video…hallow music that does not allow their souls to undergo maintenance and cultivation,” said West.
“It is not an accident that so many of our warriors are shot down like dogs or incarcerated forever and all we have left are the highly polished professionals who like to think so highly of themselves and how smart and rich they are and how high they go and yet they are well adjusted to injustice,” West said.
“Our young folks are hungry, thirsty for the real thing. That is what Black Lives Matters is all about. What an indictment on the older generation of Black folk,” he said. “Some how our young folk don’t feel like we love…care for them. We left them dangling. We left them rootless, and they are caught up in the spiritual blackout of American civilization.”
“That spiritual terrorism takes the form of military disposition…oh, we got to get over…got to dominate…got to engage in conquest. That makes her mama turn over in her grave. We may have broken the Ten Commandments financially, but we had a spirituality that could combat that kind of terrorism in our families, in our churches and in our communities….”
After Dr. Cornel West had spoken, Pfleger called “the brothers from the block ” to the altar many of whom were recent gang leaders but today are now peacekeepers at Saint Sabina. “Everybody wants to demonize…them but these are our sons,” he said as the audience stood applauding.
“These are strong brothers,” Pfleger said. “Let the police know. Let society know. These ain’t gangbangers. These are our sons whom we are going to love and protect.”
Pfleger then called up members of the young adult ministry and Black student union members from Columbia and Roosevelt University. “This is our future,” Pfleger said as more young adults filed around the altar.
Asking Dr. West to join him, Pfleger said, “We’re in good shape. Whether you’re a president of a Black student union, whether you’re just a college student, a young adult in the neighborhood or brothers from the block, you got one thing in common. America is trying to keep you from reaching your destiny and keeping you from reaching your purpose and reaching what God has planned for you….”
Pointing to the very spot they all were standing on, Pfleger said he preached the funeral of 26-year-old Phillip Andre “Cartoon” Dupree, Jr., a former gang leader in the Auburn Gresham community who was trying to turn his life around but was killed in a drive-by shooting. His 62-year-old grandmother was shot but survived.
Pfleger said Dupree had come to him saying he wanted to make a change. Pfleger was helping him “get back on his feet, get a job and get him straight.” Pfleger told those standing by the altar, “I ain’t speaking for no other pastor or other church…, but as for this pastor and this church, we will fight for you. We will die for you because we believe in you and we will fight for you. Whatever we have to do by any means necessary to save your future because you are our future.
“You are our seed, and we refuse to let this society kill our seeds. They are not going to abort your futures. I know you got a friend in Jesus, but you also got a friend here at Saint Sabina, too and we’re going to stand with you,” said Pfleger turning the mike over to Dr. West.
Saying they are all beautiful, Dr. West said, “You are all special. There’s nobody in the world like you. You got your own fingerprints but the question is whether you are going to lift your voices or whether you’re going to be an echo. Are you going to be an original that God gave you or a copy this society tries to turn you into? That’s the challenge,” West said.
“You want to be connected to something that allows you to be empowered. Respect yourself….” West said unfortunately “too many of us old school brothers and sisters failed ya’ll…. You got to work through the fear….”