Reparations in Education and Re-Imagining Our Stories: Appoint Dr. Melina Abdullah as the Inaugural Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies Cal State LA -The People’s Choice!
Clergy for Black Lives, a collective of clergy members from throughout Southern California, sent a letter to California State University, Los Angeles (CSU Los Angeles) President, William Covino, on July 11, 2020 to inquire as to his reasoning for not appointing Dr. Melina Abdullah as the Inaugural Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, the second College of Ethnic Studies in the nation. President Covino responded on July 13, 2020, stating that he was not on campus and could not address personnel matters.
In President Covino’s refusal to meet and respond to our request, Clergy for Black Lives held a press conference and rally on the campus of CSU Los Angeles on July 13, 2020, again requesting an in-person meeting. In response to our presence on campus, which was peaceful and strictly adhered to social distancing protocols, President Covino sent out a campus-wide email, stating that our presence was a security risk.
Pastor William D. Smart, President and CEO of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC-SC) remarks that, “We find it reprehensible that President Covino treated Dr. Abdullah, Clergy for Black Lives as well as the community of stakeholders and constituents with such lack of respect. This is a very deleterious time for African Americans and other ethnic minorities; however, respect, in spite of George Floyd, is hard coming for African Americans. So many times, African Americans have been over qualified for positions they have been denied.”
“Shouldn’t the President of CSU Los Angeles want to meet with stakeholders? Unfortunately, this decision threatens the already fragile relationship between the Black community and university,” Rev. Dr. James M. Thomas noted.
Pastor Kevin Sauls, Progressive, Prophetic, Pluralistic Advocate and Consultant in Intersectionality, Inclusivity, Equality and Equity acknowledged, “The resistance of the President and Provost at Cal-State Los Angeles to appoint Dr. Melina Abdullah as the Inaugural Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies is a tri-convergence of retaliation, revealing a lack of imagination and institutional racial, gender and religious discrimination. Her appointment will be a win-win, as it will be blessed by the courage of an intersectional academician and the connections of a catalytic activist, who will develop the College of Ethnic Studies at Cal State Los Angeles into a dynamic local, national and global platform, advancing the deconstruction of white supremacy and the reconstruction of God’s beloved world community.”