Cornel West chooses Melina Abdullah as VP

Wave Staff and Wire Report

LOS ANGELES — Longshot presidential hopeful Cornel West has chosen Melina Abdullah — a founding member and leading voice with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles — as his vice presidential running mate.

“Sister Melina’s incredible courage, keen intellect and deep vision have greatly served the cause of liberation in education, worker rights, and both racial and gender justice,” West said in a statement announcing the choice. “Her unique Black analysis and witness helps us confront our crumbling era of empire, white supremacy and patriarchy. I look forward to working with her as we strengthen our commitment in our campaign for truth, justice and love.”

Abdullah is a professor of Pan-African Studies at Cal State Los Angeles.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to join Dr. Cornel West as his vice presidential candidate at this critical moment as we work together for transformative change,” Abdullah said in a statement. “This campaign offers a real vision for the world that stands in opposition to oppressive forces and holds fast to the universal principles of truth, justice and love.”

West, a philosopher and academic, initially launched his campaign as a Democrat, then switched to the Green Party before finally landing as an Independent. He appeared on the Tavis Smiley radio show in Los Angeles April 10 to make his vice president announcement, which was required for him to qualify for the ballot in some states.

West has already qualified for the ballot in several states, including South Carolina, Alaska and Oregon, according to his campaign.

West is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He has previously been a professor at both Harvard and Princeton.

He graduated magna cum laude in three years at Harvard and obtained his master’s and Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton. He was the first Black to obtain a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton.

In addition to teaching, he has written 20 books. 

According to his campaign website he is running for president because of a “national crisis of moral bankruptcy and spiritual obscenity driven by a derelict duopoly of both major [political] parties that equally places profits over people and the planet.”

West said running as an independent candidate gives him the opportunity to “deliver policy prescriptions incorporated by and for the people instead of political parties beholden to corporations and special interest groups who feel no solidarity with poor and working-class people of all races, gender identities and age groups.”

Abdullah earned a bachelor’s degree in African American studies from Howard University and a Ph.D. in political science from USC. 

In addition to being a professor, she has served as a union organizer, currently serving as chair of the Council for Racial and Social Justice with the California Faculty Association’s Los Angeles Chapter and on the statewide Political Action and Legislation Committee.

In 2013, she was among the founders of Black Lives Matter following the death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. She continues to lead the Los Angeles chapter.