Although Dr. Cornel West was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on June 2, 1953, his family was in transit until they finally settled in Sacramento, California. His mother was school principal and his father was a civilian Air Force administrator. In addition to his parents, Dr. West had many seemingly contradictory influences. He was impressed with the Baptist church. His grandfather had been a preacher. He was equally impressed with the commitment of the Black Panthers who had an office near his church. During this period, Dr. West engaged in protesting the second class status of persons of African ancestry by, among other things, refusing to salute the flag. He also decided to attend Harvard University after reading a biography of President Theodore Roosevelt. He was graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in 3 years in 1973. Professor Martin Kilson referred to him as "the most intellectually aggressive and highly cerebral student I have taught in my 30 years here." He received his M.A. degree in 1975 and his Ph.D. Degree in 1980 from Princeton University. He once headed the Department of Afro-American Studies at Princeton University. After giving life to that department, he returned to Harvard University where he serves as the Professor of Afro-American Studies and Philosophy of Religion. He also strives to address the problems facing persons of African ancestry in urban America and maintaining an ongoing dialog between Blacks and Jews. His books total 13 and his last 5 books include Race Matters, Keeping the Faith, Jews and Blacks- Let the Healing begin, with Michael Lerner, The Future of Race with Henry Louis Gates, and Struggles in the Promised Land - Toward a History of Black and Jewish Relations in the United States with Jack Salzman.