HDS students and Cornel West

FlyerRadicalFutureLast night I had the pleasure of participating in an event put on by the Harvard Divinity School Socialists called “Living a Radical Future: The Spiritual Opportunities of Socialism.” I was (unbelievably) on the bill with Dr. Cornel West! (Flyer to the left.) It’s sort of a fluke that I got to do this; the Harvard Divinity School students saw that I was in the “editorial group” of Religion and Socialism (of DSA), and that I was local, and an HDS grad. So, lucky me!

The event was in Andover Chapel, which I hadn’t stepped foot in since 1997, 21 years ago! I was surprised to find the pews are gone, with lovely chairs creating a much more versatile space.

It was great to meet the current HDS students, too. They gave me so much hope. They were predominantly from the Millennial generation, and they seem so advanced in their understanding of democratic socialism.

When I was a student at HDS in the mid-90s, it was through taking a class with Dr. West (called “Religion and Cultural Criticism”) that I ultimately learned about the concept of democratic socialism (as opposed to the “scary” versions of socialism that I’d been taught about growing up). And it was through Dr. West that I heard about DSA (the Democratic Socialists of America), since Dr. West has been an honorary Co-Chair of DSA for quite some time.

I attended quite a few meetings of a start-up version of Harvard YDSA (Young DSA), but there were only a handful of us (four – seven, tops) at each meeting, though it was university-wide. This was around 1995-97. At last night’s gathering of HDS Socialists (just Divinity School Students, not university-wide), there were probably 85 people there! It was wonderful.

Cornel West Lara Hoke HDS Nov 2018I had the honor, after giving brief remarks, of introducing my hero, Dr. Cornel West. I felt unworthy of this, but I did it anyway!

Dr. West is so brilliant. I had the privilege of learning from him, once again.

In addition to being as intelligent as anyone I’ve ever met, he is also as warm and sweet as anyone I’ve ever met. What a great human being.

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