West has held professorships at Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Union Theological Seminary, and the University of Paris during his career. In 1980, West graduated Princeton University as the first African-American to hold a Phd and regards the Black Panther movement as highly influential in his thinking.
He is also a frequent commentator on politics and social issues in many media outlets and has written 20 books.
West considers himself a leftist activist and has been critical of members of the Democratic Party, including former President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. He has referred to former President Barack Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black muppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.” (1)
In November 2012, West said in an interview that he considered Obama a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface.” (2)
West has called the U.S. a “racist patriarchal” nation where white supremacy continues to define everyday life. “White America,” he writes, “has been historically weak-willed in ensuring racial justice and has continued to resist fully accepting the humanity of blacks.”
He also holds controversial views of the September 11 attacks. He has commented that the attacks “gave white Americans a glimpse of what it means to be a black person in the United States—feeling “unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence, and hatred” for who they are. “The ugly terrorist attacks on innocent civilians on 9/11,” he said, “plunged the whole country into the blues.” (3)
West believes that “the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s ugly totalitarian regime was desirable,” but that the war in Iraq was the result of “dishonest manipulation” on the part of the Bush administration. He asserts that Bush Administration hawks “are not simply conservative elites and right-wing ideologues”, but rather are “evangelical nihilists – drunk with power and driven by grand delusions of American domination of the world”. He adds, “We are [now] experiencing the sad gangsterization of America, an unbridled grasp at power, wealth, and status.” (4)
Viewing capitalism as the root cause of these alleged American lusts, West warns, “Free-market fundamentalism trivializes the concern for public interest. It puts fear and insecurity in the hearts of anxiety-ridden workers. It also makes money-driven, poll-obsessed elected officials deferential to corporate goals of profit – often at the cost of the common good.” (5)
 Huffington Post, 18 March 2011 updated 25th May: Cornel West: Comments on Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize: Hard to be war President with peace prize https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/10/10/cornel-west-comments-on-o_n_316476.html
2 RT (Russia Today) 7 October 2014 Cornel West calls Obama the Black face of the American empire https://www.rt.com/usa/193688-cornel-west-obama-american-empire/
3 Cornel West, Democracy Matters, page 20, 2004
4 Cornel West, Democracy Matters page 58 2004
5Theglobalist.com Archived December 3, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.