Details

Biography
Topics
African Americans
Civil Rights Movement
Education
Human Rights
Leadership
Racism/Racial Justice
Women & Feminism
Dr. Melina Abdullah is a recognized expert on race, gender, class, and social movements.  She was among the original group of organizers that convened to form Black Lives Matter and continues to serve as a Los Angeles chapter leader.  
She is also Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.  Dr. Abdullah earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in Political Science and her B.A. from Howard University in African American Studies. 
Professor Abdullah is a womanist scholar-activist, understanding the role that she plays in the academy as intrinsically linked to broader struggles for the liberation of oppressed people. Professor Abdullah is a leader in the fight for Ethnic Studies in the K-12 and university systems and was a part of the historic victory that made Ethnic Studies a requirement in the Los Angeles Unified School District, also serving on the Taskforce for the Advancement of Ethnic Studies for the California State University system.  
Abdullah is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, with subjects ranging from coalition-building to womanist mothering.  She has contributed to popular media outlets, including The Root, Los Angeles Times, Truthdig, Los Angeles Sentinel, Los Angeles Progressive, and BK Nation.  
She is also co-host and co-producer of the weekly radio program Beautiful Struggle which airs on KPFK, part of the Pacifica radio network, and hosts and produces the weekly internet radio show “Move the Crowd,” which airs on Radio Justice (radiojustice.org).  
From 2014-2018, Dr. Abdullah served on the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission, where she initiated and chaired the county-wide hearings on community experiences with policing and was instrumental in replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. Dr. Abdullah also serves on a number of boards for, among others, the Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA), California Faculty Association-Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA-CAN), and the National Association for Ethnic Studies.
Melina is the recipient of many awards, most recently the 2018 Community Service Award from National Council for Black Studies, 2017 Unsung Heroes Award from the Oscar Grant Foundation, 2017 Extraordinary Service Award from the African Heritage Studies Association, 2017 Justice Work Award from Beyond the Bars, 2017 Freedom Fighter Award from the NAACP, 2017 Activist Award presented by the National Association for Ethnic Studies, among numerous others. 
She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, TV One, ABC, PBS, Revolt TV, KTLA, KCET, BET, Free Speech TV, and Al-Jazeera, and is featured in the films "Waking the Sleeping Giant," "13th," "When Justice Isn’t Just," and "Justice or Else" and in the television series "Two Sides."
Melina is originally from Oakland, California.  She is a single “soccer mama” of three children and resides in Mid-City Los Angeles.
 
Testimonials

“Melina Abdullah is a potent combination of historical narrative, biting critique and keep-it-real aesthetic wrapped in the activist tradition. Her presentations are both informative and a clarion call to action. She is truly a gem.”
— Lasana O. Hotep, Dean of Student Equity and Support Programs, Skyline College
 

“At the recent Left Coast Forum, Melina Abullah's riveting keynote, “Black Lives STILL Matter…Especially When White-Supremacy Tells You That They Don’t,” delivered the goods. Powerful, touching, informed, uplifting, backed by her own in-the-trenches courage -- her talk was yet another example of why Melina has earned so much admiration and affection among activists in Los Angeles and far beyond.”
— Dick Price, co-founder and host of the Left Coast Forum and co-editor of the L.A. Progressive

“I first came to know Melina Abdullah more than 20 years ago, when she was a young community organizer in Los Angeles. Since then, she has emerged as a powerful force and tremendous public speaker who draws from both her intellectual work and grassroots organizing. To every presentation, including as a keynote panelist for the 2016 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Meeting (at my invitation), she brings a combination of critical information, keen analysis, and ability to motivate and mobilize a broad audience around visionary and transformative ideas.”
— Rep. Karen Bass, Member of Congress, 37th Congressional District of California

Speeches

Free Speech and the Targeting of Black Protest
Where “free speech” rights for white supremacists are advanced and protected by right-wing individuals and organizations, Black protest is subject to increasing criminalization and repression, especially when organizers are acting in response to police violence. Black people are killed at least every 28 hours by police, security, or vigilantes, and hate crime (both documented as such or not) is surging, with Black people as the primary target. Black organizers are being tracked, surveilled, intimidated, arrested, and charged, while white officers and vigilantes who kill and brutalize Black people do so with virtually universal impunity.

The Rise of New White Supremacy and What it Means for Black People
The campaign and presidency of Donald Trump has ushered in a new white supremacist era, manifesting in terms of rhetoric, policy, and White supremacist violence. Beyond resistance, Black people and allies are challenged to vision and organize alternative political, economic, and social models that beat back the kind of blatant oppression now faced.

"The Intellectual Arm of the Revolution": Black Freedom Struggle and 50 Years of Black Studies
Black Studies was founded out of student and community struggle and is deeply rooted in Black Power demands. It was never an academic initiative ushered in by institutions, but a challenge to them. 50 years after the establishment of the first Black Studies Department, the discipline continues to frame itself as revolutionary in terms of subject matter, pedagogy, and epistemology.

Black Lives Matter and the Making of a Mass Movement
A presentation by one of the original members and an on-the-ground organizer of the #BlackLivesMatter global network, offering a political history of the movement as a point in Black freedom struggle. Through personal narrative and movement analysis, this conversation presents the vision and hope for the movement as well as its approach and tactics. It also provides tangible ways to plug in to the work.

The Audacity of Blackness: Rights, Repression, and Resistance in the Black Lives Matter Era
Five years ago, Black Lives Matter was birthed as a new iteration of the Black freedom struggle. It stands as an assertion that Black people have the right to live and walk freely and hold a sacred duty to struggle to end state-sanctioned violence. Black Live Matter is deeply rooted in the Black radical tradition and, as such, has been targeted by the state for repression. While the impact is felt, organizers continue to audaciously summon transgenerational memory and power to resist, vision, and build towards freedom and justice.

Black Women in Politics
#TrustBlackWomen has gone viral. The hashtag and assertion are tied to Black women’s voting and political work, which kept the child predator, Roy Moore, from becoming the next Senator from Alabama, voted in the greatest numbers against Trump, and is one of the nation’s most reliable voting blocs. Moreover, Black women office holders have been most likely to engage in rhetoric, organizing and policy work that empowers not only Black communities, but all oppressed communities.

Womanist Leadership
Womanist leadership is discussed as an oppositional model to the asymmetrical leadership structure advanced by white men.  Black women, who stand at the intersections of race, gender, and often additional oppressions (class, sexuality, physical ability), have developed and practiced models of leadership that are tied to their identities and collective in focus. This talk presents the tenets of womanist leadership, drawing from historic and contemporary examples and analysis.

Visioning Liberation (Talk)
This session focuses on the importance of visioning and radical imagining. It examines transformational movements and leaders and the tools that have been successful in moving beyond resistance and towards new visions. The talk can also be coupled with an interactive workshop.

Visioning Liberation (Workshop)
This workshop can accommodate between 8 and 25 participants (up to 100 if co-facilitated). Through a series of exercises, participants engage in both individual and collective visioning. If desirable, visions can be broken down into goals, objectives, and projects.

Womanist Mothering: Loving and Raising the Revolution
Womanist mothering is an approach that rejects White-supremacist-hetorpatriarchal notions that bind us to nuclear family structures and embrace African and woman-centered definitions of family that enable children to flourish and mothers to live as whole and complete beings. This approach to mothering is revolutionary in both its approach and its fostering of revolutionary praxis among its adherents.

Media