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The Professorship

The Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Visiting Professorship was initiated in 1981 to foster multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence at Metropolitan State University of Denver. The professorship brings renowned scholars and artists of distinction to MSU Denver to conduct classes, seminars, performances and lectures for students, faculty and the larger Denver community.

Rachel B. Noel Distinguished Professors have included such luminaries as Princeton Professor Cornel West, pianist Billy Taylor, author Iyanla Vanzant, former president of Spelman College Johnetta Cole, jazz singer Diane Reeves, the late actor and civil rights activist Ossie Davis and executive editor of Ebony magazine Lerone Bennett Jr.


2019 Visiting Professor

Dr. Melina Abdullah

 

Melina Abdullah

Dr. Melina Abdullah is a recognized expert on race, gender, class, and social movements.  She was among the original group of organizers that convened to form Black Lives Matter and continues to serve as a Los Angeles chapter leader.  
 
She is also Professor and Chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University, Los Angeles.  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. 
 
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 for the California State University system.  
 
Abdullah is the author of numerous articles and book chapters, with subjects ranging from coalition-building to womanist mothering.  She has contributed to popular media outlets, including The Root, Los Angeles Times, Truthdig, Los Angeles Sentinel, Los Angeles Progressive, and BK Nation.  
 
She is also 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 a number of boards for, among others, the Black Community, Clergy and Labor Alliance (BCCLA), California Faculty Association-Los Angeles, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA-CAN), and the National Association for Ethnic Studies.
 
Melina is the recipient of many awards, most recently the 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, among numerous others. 
 
She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, TV One, ABC, PBS, Revolt TV, KTLA, KCET, BET, Free Speech TV, and Al-Jazeera, and is featured in the films "Waking the Sleeping Giant," "13th," "When Justice Isn’t Just," and "Justice or Else" and in the television series "Two Sides."
 
Melina is originally from Oakland, California.  She is a single “soccer mama” of three children and resides in Mid-City Los Angeles.

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