Melina Abdullah is an American academic and civic leader. She is chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and a co-founder of the Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter. Abdullah was born in East Oakland, Oakland, California, where her father was a union organizer and self-proclaimed Trotskyist. Her paternal grandfather was a Marxist economist and German communist who opposed the Nazi regime. Abdullah graduated from Howard University with a BA in African American Studies. She subsequently earned a MA and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Southern California.
Abdullah is a self-described “womanist scholar-activist”. She has said that her academic roles are connected with her activist role in fighting for liberating those who have been exploited many times. She serves on several boards, including Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA), Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA-CAN), and Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE).
Abdullah is a tenured professor and the chair of the Department of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She was interviewed in “13th”, a 2016 documentary about mass incarceration in the United States. Abdullah has served on the Los Angeles County Human Relations Commission since 2014. She is a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Los Angeles, was arrested and released after paying a $20,000 bail in May 2018, and regularly writes articles for the LA Progressive. Abdullah is a supporter of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam, categorized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for its anti-white, antisemitic, and anti-LGBT rhetoric. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have been extensively condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, which combats antisemitism.