Despite the rain on Thursday afternoon, Temple students and community members gathered under the Qdoba overhang at the corner of Cecil B. Moore Avenue and Broad Street to continue their fight.
After almost two years of protests for the reinstatement of Anthony Monteiro — a former African American studies professor whose contract with the department was not renewed in January 2014 — Monteiro supporters said the protests are far from finished.
“We need to keep this going,” said Patrice Armstead, a social work graduate student at Temple and one of the organizers of the rally. “Because it’s what’s right and what’s just.”
Armstead said that their demands haven’t changed the protesters are asking for the reinstatement of Monteiro with tenure, to the stop the gentrification of North Philadelphia, and to improve the African American studies department at Temple, which Armstead said is contingent on Monteiro’s return.
Monteiro added that now they’re also demanding that Dr. Molefi Asante, the chair of the department, is fired. Monteiro said he believes that Asante’s leadership is responsible for the professors who have recently left the department, noting three female professors who left this past year: Maxwell Stanford Jr., Heather Ann Thompson and Iyelli Ichile.
Monteiro said he hopes that his case will be discussed at the Board of Trustees meeting this October. MOVE organization leader Pam Africa, Reverend Mark Tyler of the Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church and several Temple students were some of the speakers Thursday evening.
Tyler’s speech focused on the disconnect he sees between Temple and the surrounding area over the years as Temple has expanded its campus. He said he believes the community needs people like Monteiro to advocate for the residents.
“We got to fight for him, for people who live in the shadow of Morgan Hall but don’t benefit from its prosperity,” Tyler said.
One student talked about the current state of the department, which included poor availability for classes and discontent with the material.
“How are you going to have two courses on hip-hop and none on [James] Baldwin?” Monteiro added.
Monteiro was known for his course on W.E.B. Du Bois, after his non-renewal the former Dean of the Liberal Arts department Teresa Soufas announced that they would not be hiring anyone new to teach Du Bois, a decision which received criticism.
Soufas resigned from her position as dean this past January due to health reasons.
Armstead said that they plan on continuing the protests until their demands are answered.
Monteiro added that he will continue his Saturday course on Du Bois, which he hosted this past semester at the Church of the Advocate. He added there are plans for a Black Radical Conference in January.
Mariam Dembele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MariamDembele.