Abdullah, Melina

Co-Founder of Los Angeles chapter of Black Lives Matter





An oral history with Dr. Melina Abdullah, Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles. Abdullah was among the original group of organizers 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 Abdullah’s life history and involvement with BLMLA. Specifically, this interview covers Abdullah’s 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 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 faced from outside the black community; gender differences she noticed growing up; recalls being arrested in high school; talks about the normalization of corrupt policing and abuse; reflects on her time at Howard University, being influenced by Maxine Waters, and her involvement with the National Name Exchange, which led to her Ph.D. and M.A. from the University of Southern California; discusses the multifaceted community work in which she is currently participating; her involvement with BLMLA and her children’s response to her activism; remembers the initial BLM meeting and planning 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 academics and organizing; talks about her concerns with being involved in BLM, and the possible negative impacts on her children and livelihood; the importance of having black women involved in liberation work; shares her forms of self-care and healing; discusses the drawbacks of social media with regard to BLM; her current work against the L.A. Police Commission and Los Angeles Police Department; shares the story of Wakeisha Wilson, a black woman killed in prison; shares thoughts on current U.S. politics; and finally, reflects on her greatest accomplishments and what she is most proud of.


Field Value
File Name 5880_P01.jpg
Content Type image/jpeg
Size 4201496
Description> Dr. Melina Abdullah.