United Teachers storm Twitter demanding Cal State L.A. to appoint Melina Abdullah as Ethnic Studies dean


Chris Torres

Black Lives Matter L.A. co-founder Melina Abdullah.

Natalie Miranda, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

United Teachers Los Angeles launched a “Twitter Storm” on Friday to demand the appointment of Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles and professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles, as the inaugural dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State L.A.

Twitter users supported Abdullah, dubbed “The People’s Choice,” by using the hashtags #DrAbdullah4Dean and #FreedomCampus.

The opening of the position was announced during the 2019 academic year and the search committee has yet to fill the position. The newly appointed dean will oversee three departments in the College of Ethnic Studies: Asian and Asian American Studies, Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies and Pan-African Studies.

“The University seeks a dynamic and visionary leader and scholar who will build upon the existing strengths of the faculty in our Ethnic Studies Departments,” the university’s announcement said. “The Founding Dean must have the resourcefulness and creative ability to harness the potential of the newly formed College of Ethnic Studies to further advance the University’s commitment to community engagement and the public good.”

Abdullah, an academic and activist, advocates for change within the university. She has taught Pan-African Studies at Cal State L.A. since 2002 and served a nine-year tenure as the Pan-African Studies chair until 2019. She is also a committee member of the California State University system’s Task Force for the Advancement of Ethnic Studies.

Abdullah’s advocacy doesn’t stop at the university. She has helped lead the BLM movement since the L.A. chapter’s formation in 2013 and continues to be relentless at the movement’s forefront today as a prominent leader in the fight for defunding the police and social justice for the Black community.

BLM-L.A.’s Twitter account shared Abdullah’s proposal for a “Freedom Campus,” a 15-point list of demands addressing “anti-Blackness” on campus. It urges Cal State L.A. to take a new direction for the future of the institution, beginning with appointing Abdullah dean of the new college. The demands are addressed in a letter to Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino.

The Cal State L.A. Black Student Union, Black Faculty and Staff Caucus, the department of Pan-African Studies, El Movimiento de Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlan, LatinxFaculty4BLM, BLM-L.A, the Latin American Studies Association and the California Faculty Association stand in solidarity with the demands, according to the letter to Covino.

A petition to appoint Abdullah was created by Anthony Ratcliff, a Cal State L.A. Pan-African Studies professor. The petition, which requires 4,000 signatures, has 3,420 signatures as of Sunday.