huge crowd outside, waiting for the doors to open.

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in january i had the good fortune to see tavis smiley and cornel west speak in pugh hall at UF.  i showed up about an hour early, not knowing what the venue was like or what kind of crowd there would be.  thank goodness i got there when i did because the place was packed.  i was extremely lucky to get a seat, as some folks were diverted to an auditorium where they were streaming the talk live.  not only did the stream not show up well but the auditorium, i heard, was packed as well.

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tavis smiley introduced cornel west.  it was clear in his presentation that he greatly admired dr. west and he seemed to set the stage for him to speak.  this was my first time to hear cornel west speak and they made a great duo, smiley with his clear cut details, and sassy asides and dr. west with his theatrical way of speaking.

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they were there to talk about poverty.  as in, 50% of americans are in or near poverty.  really depressing stuff but when i got up to leave, i didn’t feel depressed.  they said what they had to say in a way that lifted the audience up.

looking down at my notebook, all i see are scraps of phrases, statistics and quotations.  it doesn’t make much of a picture.  but what i remember is a particular feeling of elation every time west spoke of a movement that needs to be multi-racial, multi-cultural, and inclusive all all genders, ethnicities, sexual identities, faiths (including athiests:)).  it goes without saying but i LOVE that he didn’t let it.  i loved that when someone brought up racism happening in the occupy movement, it didn’t phase him, simple, white supremacy and male supremacy come up in progressive movements, we just have to help each other out, push each other to be better.

after the talk i went up to shake their hands, it was a huge crowd, and i think if i hadn’t been alone i may have easily been talked out of it.  but i felt so touched and i wanted to shake cornel west’s hand and tell him that the book race matters had significantly impacted my life.  it’s so easy to get bummed out, to think that their is no way that equality will ever prevail, that things are always getting worse, but one of the points that resonated with me from race matters is that the one thing you can always do, the one thing that will change the world, is to create love and foster connections.

as it turned out, by the time i got to the stage, he and smiley were being encouraged by their assistants that it was time to leave.  west reached down a hugged a few of us left waiting, tavis smiley shook my hand, i said “thank you” and headed out.

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