A crowd of between 60 and 70 people gathered outside Sullivan Hall at 3 p.m. last Wednesday to protest the firing of former African American studies professor Anthony Monteiro.
The protest, which continued throughout a public Board of Trustees meeting at 3:30 p.m., called for the reinstatement of Monteiro by Fall 2015, removal of Dr. Molefi Kete Asante as chair of the Department of African American studies and the Board of Trustees and administration to improve the relationship between local communities and the university.
Furthermore, in Temple’s search for a new dean for the College of Liberal Arts, protesters demanded that both student representatives and representatives from local black and Latino communities help contribute to the process.
Near the end of the protest, senior political science student and People Utilizing Real Power member Felix Nnumolu said in a speech that he and four other student representatives and Rev. Gregory Holston from the New Vision United Methodist Church on Westmoreland Street were allowed to attend the meeting, but were never given a chance to speak.
“They took us to the back of the room, and we just stood there with the idea that we were going to have an opportunity to speak,” Nnumolu said in an interview with The Temple News. “So we waited and waited, and they adjourned the meeting. So we were pretty upset.”
According to a university statement, “Policy matters within the purview of Temple’s Board of Trustees can be submitted to the Office of the Secretary for referral to and consideration by an appropriate committee and/or the full board as appropriate. Dr. Monteiro’s advocates previously have addressed their concerns in detail with Temple’s President, Provost, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees.”
Outside Sullivan Hall, several local community members and organization leaders voiced their opposition against the release of Monteiro, and to end gentrification that has been occurring between Temple and its surrounding North Philadelphia communities.
One national story that Monteiro referenced during his speech was University of Oklahoma President David Boren’s decision to disband the Sigma Alpha Eplison fraternity from the university, following the discovery of racist videos involving members of SAE.
Monteiro ended his speech by criticizing the current state of Temple’s African American studies department, which he said is shifting away from examining the economic, political and social problems facing Temple and its surrounding communities.
Even though his contract expired on June 30 last year, Monteiro told The Temple News after the protest he will continue to fight the university’s decision.
“It’s a principle matter now,” he said. “It would be one thing if after a year, you could see progress in African American studies, with the president, the provost, or whoever else would be taking charge to build this department … what you see is the very opposite, a department in disarray … and seemingly, an administration that does not want to own up and take responsibility.”
Monteiro added that in the long run, Temple has to improve its relationship with its surrounding communities.
“Temple has to be a neighbor to North Philadelphia,” Monteiro said. “You cannot just gentrify North Philadelphia … I think the issues of gentrification, my reinstatement, and rebuilding African American studies, they all go together … to the extent that Temple [administration] does not want to hear the voices of North Philadelphia … well, that sends a hell of a message.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 215.204.7419 or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.