College of Arts and Sciences

Timothy L. Lake

Native Tongue Lectures

Who Loves you More? Barak Obama, Cornel West, and the Political Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Timothy L. Lake, Wabash College

Timothy L. Lake
Associate Professor of English
Wabash College
Graduate of R. Nelson Snider High School

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Among African American public intellectuals, Cornel West has been the most visible and vocal critic of President Barak Obama’s economic and social policies with regard to the poor. At the heart of West’s criticism is a challenge to Obama’s claim to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Moreover, the debate over the meaning and import of Obama’s presidency for black americans centers on King’s love ethic manifested as a preference for the poor, a commitment to a philosophy of nonviolence, and a willingness to sacrifice politics for justice. In this talk, Timothy L. Lake explored the features of King’s and West’s political philosophies. In doing so, he exposed the political and philosophical commitments of a black liberal democratic tradition that finds itself in crisis in the age of Obama. 


A Fort Wayne native and graduate of R. Nelson Snider High School (1981), Timothy L. Lake began his undergraduate education at IPFW before transferring to Ball State University where he earned a B.S. in speech communication. He holds masters degrees from Howard University and University of Notre Dame. Lake completed his Ph.D. in American cultures studies with a concentration in political philosophy at Bowling Green State University. He is currently an associate professor of English at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana.

His publications include “Martin Luther King, Jr.: Towards a Democratic Theory,” in The Philosopher, King: Critical Essays on the Liberatory Philosophy of Martin Luther King, Jr. (forthcoming) and “Speaking of Africa and Singing of Home: The Trope of Africa in African American Historiography” in Africana Cultures and Policy Studies: Scholarship and the Transformation of Public Policy (2009). His book, Love and Democracy: The Political Philosophies of Martin Luther King, Jr and Cornel West is currently under review with the University of Notre Dame Press. He is currently working on the book African American Markings: Finding Indiana’s Black Public Landmarks, which has been invited for submission by Indiana University Press.