Cornel West Taps Black Lives Matter L.A. Co-Founder Melina Abdullah as his Vice Presidential Running Mate

Elgin Nelson

      Renowned activist/author and presidential candidate Cornel West has tapped Black Lives Matter L.A. president Melina Abdullah as his vice-presidential running mate in his independent bid for the White House.

      West made the announcement earlier today the Tavis Smiley Radio Show. 

      “She’s one of the great freedom fighters of a generation, one of the great love warriors of a generation,” West said of Abdullah, who appeared with him on the show.  “I wanted somebody whose heart, mind, and soul is committed to the empowerment of poor and working peoples of all colors. Melina has a history of — longevity of putting her heart, mind, and soul in the struggle.”

      Abdullah, a local grassroots organizer of Black Lives Matter chapters and former head of the Pan-African Studies Department at California State University, Los Angeles, has not previously pursued political office.

      “Both of us want to disrupt the narrative that you have only two choices,” Abdullah said of their ticket. “We can be expansive and imaginative … we enter this really as faithful people who are not more pragmatists than we are faithful.”

      The 51-year-old activist who holds a degree from Howard University said she “was not expecting the phone call that I got last week at all. It was the furthest thing from my mind. Then he and his wife Annahita [Mahdavi West] asked and immediately my heart just soared.”

      In her new political role, Abdullah emphasized the separate entities of Black Lives Matter organization and individual endorsements. She also highlighted her Muslim faith, especially noting the significance of her vice-presidential campaign announcement coinciding with Eid, marking the conclusion of Ramadan.

      “When we talk about Islam we talk about people who submit to the will of God,” Abdullah said. “Christianity and Islam and every other faith, if you think about the core of who we are as spiritual people, we’re all aligned.”

      Said West, “I’m running for Jesus. She’s running for Allah. That’s a beautiful thing,” West said. 

      On social platforms, Abdullah continues to voice her stance on various political matters, including recent critiques and commentary engaging in pivotal societal discussions amidst her candidacy.

      Running on the strength of their commitment towards social justice, West still confronts considerable hurdles in his long shot quest for the presidency, notably in fundraising, where he has garnered less than $1 million since initiating his campaign last summer. 

      Despite initially affiliating with the People’s Party and the Green Party, West has opted to continue as an independent, a decision that complicates his chances across all states and the District of Columbia, however, the announcement of his vice-presidential choice kickstarts the process of gathering necessary signatures for ballot presence in approximately 20 states.

      Democratic officials were quick to respond, underscoring the critical nature of the upcoming election, positioning the race as primarily between President Biden and Donald Trump. 

      “Despite Cornel West announcing a running mate, our view remains the same: only two candidates have a path to 270 electoral votes, President Biden and Donald Trump,” said DNC spokesperson Matt Corridoni. “The stakes are high, and we know this is going to be a close election — that’s why a vote for any third party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump.”

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