MELINA ABDULLAH, PH.D. @docmellymel Melina Abdullah is Professor of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles, and immediate past Department Chair. 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. She is a recognized expert on race, gender, class, and social movements. Abdullah is the author of numerous scholarly articles and book chapters, with subjects ranging from political coalition building to womanist mothering. She has also contributed to popular media outlets, including The North Star, The Root, Los Angeles Times, Truthdig, Los Angeles Sentinel, Los Angeles Progressive, and BK Nation.
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 and the Ethnic Studies Council Steering Committee for the California State University system. She was among the original group of organizers that convened to form Black Lives Matter and continues to serve as a Los Angeles chapter lead, policy team lead for the California chapters, and contributes to leadership for the Global Network.
She is 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 boards for the Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA), California Faculty Association-Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA-CAN), National Association for Ethnic Studies, the Reverence Project, and Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education (SCOPE).
Melina is the recipient of many awards, most recently the 2020 35th California State Senate District Woman of the Year, 2019 Community Organizing Award presented by the Los Angeles African American Women’s PAC, 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, 2016 Racial Justice Award presented by the YWCA, 2016 Fannie Lou Hamer Award for outstanding community service presented by the Coalition of Mental Health Professionals, 2016 Fannie Lou Hamer Award presented by the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, 2016 Sacred Sistahs Award, 2016 California Teachers Association Human Rights Award, 2016 BCCLA Ella Baker Award, 2015 Freedom Now Award, and the 2015 Communitas Award.
She was recognized by LA Weekly as one of the 10 most influential Los Angeles leaders, “Urban Girl of the Year” by 2UrbanGirls, and one of the 15 “Fiercest Sisters” of 2015 by Fierce. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox Soul, TV One, ABC, PBS, Revolt TV, KTLA, KCET, BET, Free Speech TV, Al-Jazeera, and Spectrum News, and is featured in the films (In)Visible Portraits, Hello Privilege – It’s Me Chelsea, Waking the Sleeping Giant, 13th, When Justice Isn’t Just, and Justice or Else and the television series Good Trouble and Two Sides. Melina is originally from Oakland, California. She is a single mom of three children and resides in Mid-City Los Angeles