Speaking to a crowd of several hundred people at the Lyric Theatre on Saturday night, philosopher Cornel West quoted everyone from Socrates to Sly Stone but always came back to W. E. B. Du Bois and the principles of integrity, honesty, decency and virtue.
"You've got to attend to the things that matter," he said.
West was the keynote speaker at LexEndPoverty, a Community Action Council fundraising event that was designed to facilitate community conversation about poverty.
A professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary and professor emeritus at Princeton University, West addressed issues ranging from race and self-worth to the connection between justice and love.
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In an age in which "the end of life is to have dollars and be smart," West said, "our young people need deeper memory."
"I applaud your success. That's wonderful. But ... what are you doing with it?" he said. "You have to be willing to surrender to find the joy in serving others."
A frequent television commentator, West is the author of 19 books, including Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and editor of 13 books.
LexEndPoverty is the seventh annual fundraiser for the private, nonprofit Community Action Council.
The organization works to help low-income people in Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas counties achieve self-sufficiency and reach their full potential. It operates a variety of programs, from early childhood education to winter heating assistance.
In addition to ticket sales, the event raised money with a silent auction and plea for donations.
"This is not just one night," said interim Development Manager Cheryl Weiss. "This is a movement."