Abdullah, Melina

Co-Founder of Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter





An oral history with Dr. Melina Abdullah, a Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Abdullah was among the original group of organizers that convened to form Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles (BLMLA). The interview was conducted for the Women, Politics, and Activism Since Suffrage Oral History Project for California State University, Fullerton’s Center for Oral and Public History. The purpose of this interview was to gather information regarding her life history and her involvement with BLMLA. Specifically, this interview covers her early latchkey childhood growing up in east Oakland, California; her early experiences of being a part of a diverse community; explains how politics were discussed in her household in the 1970s, her mother’s political activism, and the importance of understanding black women’s roles in politics; recalls attending labor actions as a child for her father’s carpentry union; shares her early organizing experiences in junior high and high school attending Berkeley High School; picketing and boycotting Blue and Gold, a store discriminating against Black children; recalls growing up with a strong collective of support and extended family; discusses the treatment Black men and women face from outside the Black community; the gender differences she noted growing up; recalls being arrested in high school, the overall experiences, and the aftermath; talks about the normalization of corrupt policing and abuse; her time at Howard University, being influenced by Maxine Waters, and her involvement with the National Name Exchange which led her to earn her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Southern California in Political Science; discusses the multifaceted community work she is currently doing which involves BLMLA; her involvement with BLMLA and her children’s response to her activism; recalls the initial BLM meeting for the Justice for Trayvon Martin Los Angeles march; the intersectionality of BLM; her definitions of feminism and womanism; the differences in how men and women lead in academic and organizing; she talks about her concerns of her involvement with BLM and the negative impacts on her children and livelihood; the importance of having Black women involved in liberation work; her forms of self-care and healing; the drawbacks of social media and BLM; her current work against the L.A. Police Commission and Los Angeles Police Department; she shares the story of a police brutality victim, Wakeisha Wilson; her thoughts on the United States current politics; the interview ends with reflections on her greatest accomplishments and what she is most proud of.


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Description> Dr. Melina Abdullah.