The failure of civil rights leaders to address “Wall Street criminality” illustrates how money has corrupted American culture, according to Professor Cornel West.
At book launching event on August 24 following the 50th Anniversary March on Washington, West condemned mainstream civil rights leaders for ignoring many the deeper issues affecting poor and minority communities.
“The fundamental difference between 1963 and 2013 is these days everything and everybody is up for sale,” he said. “It’s a market-driven culture. Just dangle enough money, dangle enough possessions, dangle enough assets, and folks will come running — which means we don’t get too much integrity, honesty, decency, and virtue. You get folks obsessed with having assets, folks obsessed with having wealth and position.”
Civil rights leaders like Ella Baker, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X “would never sell out,” West added. “Never. They had integrity, they had decency, they had virtue, they had honesty. And that is what we’ve got to teach our young folk, because our young folk these days are exposed to all of this culture of superficial spectacle.”
He blasted the March on Washington for ignoring “Wall Street oligarchic power,” the prison-industrial complex, and drone strikes.
“I think our mainstream leaders disappointed the people today,” West remarked. He lamented that civil rights leader and MSNBC host Al Sharpton had become the “bona fide house negro of the Obama plantation.”
“They say, ‘Oh, brother West, you’re always so hard on the President,'” West continued. “No, no, no, no. I’m doing the best I can do to love the people enough to tell them the truth. That’s what the bottom line is.”
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below:
The full video can be viewed on YouTube here.