Philosopher, activist, actor and intellectual leader Cornel West will bring his signature gift for oratory to UCLA as he delivers the UC Regents’ Lecture as part of his weeklong residency at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.

The lecture, titled “The Musical Vocation in our Bleak Times” will be held Wednesday, May 11, at 5 p.m. in Schoenberg Hall and is free and open to the public.

“Dr. West’s fearless creativity is a brilliant example to our own thinkers, creators and leaders here at the school of music and at UCLA,” said Eileen Strempel, dean of the school of music. “It is thrilling to have him among us at a time when our community is aspiring toward a brighter future after navigating so many challenges.”

West holds the title of professor emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard and the University of Paris.

West graduated magna cum laude as an undergraduate from Harvard in three years and subsequently obtained his master’s degree and doctorate in philosophy at Princeton. The author of 20 books, he is best known for his classics, “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters,” and for his memoir, “Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud.” His most recent book, “Black Prophetic Fire,” offers an unflinching look at 19th and 20th-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

A frequent guest on “Politically Incorrect,” CNN, C-SPAN and “Democracy Now,” West made his film debut in the “The Matrix Reloaded” and was the commentator (with Ken Wilbur) on the official trilogy released in 2004. He also has appeared in more than 25 documentaries and films, including  “Examined Life,” “Call and Response,” “Sidewalk” and “Stand.”

West has produced three spoken-word albums, including “Never Forget,” collaborating with Prince, Jill Scott, Andre 3000, Talib Kweli, KRS-One, and the late Gerald Levert. His spoken-word interludes are featured on productions by Terence Blanchard, The Cornel West Theory, Raheem DeVaughn and Bootsy Collins. West has a passion for communicating to a broad range of communities. He strives to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice. 

This event is part of West’s residency at UCLA as a University of California Regents’ Lecturer, which also includes a free performance in concert with Arturo O’Farrill, professor of global jazz studies at the music school, and Mariachi Los Camperos on May 13 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles.

West’s residency is sponsored by the UCLA Center for Latino Arts; the UCLA Division of Social Sciences and Dean Darnell Hunt; O’Farrill’s UCLA research funding; the Kenny Burrell Chair in Jazz Studies; the UCLA Herb Alpert Endowment Fund for Guest Lecturers; the Gary Nash Endowed Chair in American History; the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, and the department of African American studies.