Cornel West (1953–) is one of America’s leading public intellectuals. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University, where he currently teaches, and is the author of nineteen books and the editor of thirteen others. However, West has always been interested in influencing civic life beyond the academy and to that end has been a regular guest on a wide range of television and radio programs, appeared in numerous films and documentaries, and even released three spoken-word albums. In 1994 West published his classic book, Race Matters, which focused on the state of race relations in America at the end of the twentieth century. The book appeared in the immediate aftermath of civil upheaval in Los Angeles following the acquittal of five white police officers in the beating of African American motorist Rodney King. Rejecting what he saw as simplistic solutions from both the political right and left, West argued instead that issues of race in America had to be contemplated against the backdrop of a much broader set of failings in American society. These included de facto segregation, massive economic inequality and its consequences, spiritual impoverishment, and political corruption and scapegoating, as well as police brutality toward racial minorities. With the election of the first African American president of the United States in the intervening years, some commentators have argued that the country has become a “post-racial” society. Others, including West, argue that many of the problems that contributed to racial tensions in American society at the end of the twentieth century persist today, and that in fact many of them have actually been exacerbated in the generation since the civil unrest in Los Angeles.