RESPONSE FROM THE STUDENT COALITION FOR THE REINSTATEMENT OF DR. MONTEIRO TO DR. ASANTE

There have already been a number of responses to the slanderous statement issued by Dr. Molefi Asante defaming the community rally in support of Dr. Monteiro on May 8th. The Student Coalition for Dr. Monteiro would like to add our voices to this response, and lay out the reasons why we are involved in this struggle. We remain 100 percent committed to the fight for justice, and will continue to struggle regardless of the obstacles placed in our way. 

Setting the record straight

Recently there has been an influx of false information given about the protest that took place at the intersection of Broad Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue on May 8. The Student Coalition to Reinstate Dr. Monteiro was invited to speak and attend the event by community organizer Patrice Armstead. Patrice has been the main organizer and the main contact between student organizers and community organizers since the coalition began. Patrice is a Black woman, a community activist, and a mother who supports Monteiro and has been a leader central to this movement. Never in the history of this struggle has there been exclusively white leadership. The students who have participated in the campaign to reinstate Dr. Monteiro vary in race, ethnicity and political standpoint. Dr. Asante’s attempt to discredit student support in saying that we are a “homogenous group of white Marxists” or that “a cadre of white leftists was in the leadership of the protest” is not only slander but it is a back-biting attempt to discredit and undermine student power and a unwarranted racialist attack upon students and their rights to free speech and freedom of inquiry.

It was said that the community was not in attendance - this is a falsehood. Not only was this a community event chaired and organized by community people but the majority of speakers were from the community, including Marc Lamont Hill who is from North Philadelphia and was not a headliner but provided very welcome support. Marc Lamont Hill wrote an open letter of support carefully explaining why he supports Monteiro and disagrees with Asante’s actions. As for Cornel West, he was one of the first of over 300 scholars who signed a letter in solidarity with this fight against a racist and unjust university standard of pushing out Black and radical scholarship. No one has been “duped,” nor has anyone been “tangled in a web.” Monteiro has received widespread support from academics since this coalition was formed. Many students from the African American Studies Department were in attendance, and the rally was co-chaired by African American Studies undergraduate Paul-Winston Cange.

The fact of the matter is these attacks on the students represent a distorted understanding of who students are and what we do. We are not lazy attention seekers who single-mindedly want to push some leftist agenda. We are students who are serious about our scholarship and serious about the struggle for justice. We came to Temple because we wanted to learn, to discover and to study the human condition. When an injustice occurred in our own backyard, we reacted. Many of us are the same students from the Save Black Studies rallies just last spring! We were not confused, or duped, or white communist when it was your legacy on the line, Dr. Asante. Contrary to popular belief, nothing about protesting is glamorous or cool. We do not do any of this because we want to be apart of some “in-crowd.”

Asante’s McCarthyism vs. the Black revolutionary tradition 

In Dr. Asante’s insults about Dr. Monteiro’s scholarship, he attacked Dr. Monteiro for being a Marxist. Dr. Monteiro does not identify as a Marxist but rather as a Du Boisian. However, Dr. Monteiro does study Marx as any scholar of social science should. Dr. Asante accused Dr. Monteiro of being “Anti-African” because he would study Marx, Lenin and Trotsky rather than Nkrumah, Du Bois and Malcolm X. There are many contradictions and falsehoods in this statement. 

To begin, Dr. Monteiro’s main person of study is W.E.B Du Bois, not Marx, Lenin or Trotsky. His classes focus on the works of Angela Davis, Huey Newton, Malcolm X, Toni Morrison and many others. With that being said it is important to note what Du Bois believed. Du Bois, a Communist Party member late in his life, was heavily influenced by Marxism and socialism. He believed that socialism would be a better economic model for oppressed peoples than capitalism. He was forced out of the NAACP because of his radicalism. Socialism is a huge part of the black revolutionary tradition, from W.E.B Du Bois to Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela. There must be an economic path for liberation and many Black leaders believed that socialism was that path. 

Kwame Nkrumah was a Pan Africanist like Du Bois, and he was also a socialist. He worked with Black Trotskyist CLR James and constructed a type of Pan-African socialism. Socialism and African ideals are not antithetical. They go together in harmony. 

Dr. Asante has firmly attached himself to one of the most right-wing, repressive traditions in U.S. and world politics: anti-communism. From Joseph McCarthy to J. Edgar Hoover, opponents of justice have always been quick to label the movements that challenge their arrogance as “communist”. When the rulers of apartheid South Africa decided to lock away Nelson Mandela and other liberation leaders at the infamous Rivonia Trials, one of the charges brought was “furthering the objects of communism”. Branding the struggle for justice for Dr. Monteiro a communist plot is an absurd slander meant to scare community members and students. Having been thoroughly discredited for his betrayal of Dr. Monteiro and North Philadelphia, fear is the only card Dr. Asante has left to play.

At the same time, we refuse to confine our movement to the narrow range of opinion deemed acceptable by the oppressive, white supremacist power structure of the United States. Like the martyred Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party Fred Hampton said, “Socialism is the people. If you’re afraid of socialism, you’re afraid of yourself.”

Dr. Asante’s wild lies directed against the hundreds of community members and students who attended the rally on May 8th is nothing more than an attempt to stifle free speech. As someone who holds a leadership position at an academic institution, this is a very serious offense. Free inquiry at Temple University is at stake – if this unwarranted attack is not addressed it will only add to the climate of fear and intimidation felt by those who disagree with Dr. Asante. Dr. Asante’s public attack is further proof that he is intent on purging all those who have a differing analysis of the African American experience.

Distorting Dr. Monteiro record as a scholar and community leader

Dr. Anthony Monteiro is more than just a university professor. He is a life-long fighter for justice, a mentor to his students and someone who gives his students and neighbors the tools to fight for justice. Dr. Monteiro’s scholarship eschews the academic tradition of analyzing problems from the ivory tower of the university rather than fighting for change on the ground. 

Dr. Monteiro’s activism is one of the major reasons that he has so much support in the community. He does not believe that the university should be a separate entity from the community. The university should be an easily accessible resource to enhance the minds of all those in the community. Dr. Monteiro’s activism reflects this. His Saturday free school at the historic Church of the Advocate raises consciousness around political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, the rampant police brutality in this city and the long history of people’s resistance. 

This is not to say that Dr. Monteiro is not accomplished in the traditional modes of academia. He was a tenured professor at the University of the Sciences before coming to Temple. He came to Temple University after being promised tenure by the chair of the African American Studies department, Dr. Nathaniel Norment. He is one of the most cited professors in the African American Studies Department. He is one of the highest rated professors by students. He had held Du Bois symposiums and was asked to be the main speaker at the University of Pennsylvania when they bestowed an Emeritus Professorship upon W.E.B Du Bois. Not only did Dr. Monteiro speak, but he presented his theory of understanding Du Bois’ masterpiece “Black Reconstruction in America” as a form of historical logic. The claim that he is not a Du Boisian scholar is an absolute lie. 

Dr. Asante has written many books but he has also been accused of plagiarism. Plagiarism is a cardinal sin in academia and as a result of this he was forced to step down as the chair of the African American Studies department in 1996. The faculty at Temple also voted to remove Dr. Asante’s tenure. 
All of Dr. Monteiro’s life is a reflection of what he teaches in the classroom. His focus is on the common person and bringing his students in the university closer to people in the community. He helps his students become activists concerned for the welfare of humanity, not just the individual. Dr. Monteiro is an invaluable asset in the department and vital to the liberal arts tradition of intellectual pluralism and debate.

Siding with Temple against workers

Dr. Asante asserts that Monteiro’s one-year contract and non-tenure track position is acceptable, and that Monteiro should not be fighting his dismissal. In doing this, he ignores how the university is oppressing workers. Temple may be a private property owner and technically have a right to do what they are doing, but that does not mean that they are acting in a manner consistent with justice. The total lack of job security of a one-year contract and the great difficulty in gaining tenure are effectively smothering professors. How can someone speak their mind if they can face dismissal without need for explanation and without any available recourse? 

It is not as if this was an easily avoidable issue, either. This situation occurs at numerous institutions and is especially prolific at Temple. It is most likely that anyone who comes here to teach will be forced on to a short-term contract, with dim prospects for gaining tenure. It is not a matter of choice when that is nearly the only option by which you can come to this university. What Dr. Asante is asserting here is that he believes it is acceptable to treat workers in this manner. The institution is silencing the faculty with the threat of a lost job. Dr. Asante is protecting the exploitative choices of the institution by making these assertions. These choices affect every adjunct and non-tenure track professor at this institution. He not only does injustice to Dr. Monteiro, but to most of the faculty at this school. Temple University being a private property owner does not give it a right to be unopposed when it commits injustice with this power. 

Why We Fight for Dr. Monteiro and What we Stand For

In spite of the efforts of students and the community, which included delivering over 2,000 students signatures in support of Dr. Monteiro’s immediate reinstatement and the firing of Dean Soufas and multiple direct actions to force the administration to listen to our voices, the university continues to ignore our demands for the time being. The provost recently notified the coalition that he does not support the reinstatement of Dr. Monteiro and it stands by Dr. Molefi Asante and Dean Teresa Soufas’ retaliatory firing. This coalition vehemently disagrees with this unjust decision. It is clear that he colluded with Dean Soufas, whose history of racism and dictator-like decision making process is well-documented, in this act of revenge against Dr. Monteiro. This coalition continues to demand the immediate reinstatement of Dr. Monteiro, with tenure, and the firing of Dean Soufas. We demand an immediate meeting with Provost Dai to make the inquiry into Dr. Monteiro’s firing transparent and demand that Dr. Asante be held accountable for his recent slanderous attacks on Dr. Monteiro, the student body, local community activists, and nationally renowned scholars, like Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Marc Lamont-Hill, a Temple alum.

And although the struggle for justice for Dr. Monteiro at Temple is only beginning as the coalition grows stronger by the day, it is not the only issue this coalition was built on or stands for. The retaliatory attack on Dr. Monteiro by the university and Dr. Asante using red-baiting and police intimidation to repress activism around the issue is but one aspect of the disgusting neoliberal process that is destroying a once great public university and destroying the culturally rich community that surrounds it.

This coalition stands against the Temple administration and Board of Trustees that continue to stand behind racist Dean Teresa Soufas and the slanderous Dr. Molefi Asante who claim that the Black radical tradition that Dr. Monteiro represents is no longer needed in the African-American studies department and is dispensable. We stand against a neoliberal university that encourages students to take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt to pay for bloated administrators’ salaries yet refuses to listen to students’ voices in any faculty decisions. We demand that students are given a democratic voice in all faculty decisions that will affect the education they are paying so dearly for. This coalition stands against the Temple Made Gentrification that is rapidly destroying the surrounding North Philadelphia community and displacing its residents, especially the university’s new plans to demolish Norris Homes, displace its residents, and replace them with tennis courts. We demand immediate justice for the North Philadelphia community that has already suffered from the horrifying effects of gentrification. This coalition stands against the neoliberal university spending $1.04 billion on construction between 2008-2013 to build “tall buildings that look down on poverty”, as Dr. Monteiro said, to further push out and marginalize working class students, almost exclusively those of color. We demand immediate justice for these students. This coalition stands against the unfair labor practices at Temple that create the conditions for retaliatory firings and force many of our best adjunct professors and graduate students to live in near-poverty. We demand fair labor practices at Temple and that our tuition money be spent on our professors, whom are essential to our education, rather than tall buildings and bureaucrats’ salaries.
Contrary to Dr. Asante’s slanderous claims, this student coalition was not “duped” or coerced by anybody. The unjust, retaliatory firing of Dr. Monteiro simply awoke a student body that organized around the current manifestation of the unjust practices that are taking place at Temple on a daily basis. This coalition aims to take back Temple for Philadelphia and reinstating Dr. Monteiro, with tenure, is the first step towards this becoming a reality. Ultimately, this coalition aims to take back Temple for The People and make it the great university it has the potential to be. Dr. Asante’s attacks did not harm this movement, it only strengthened it and made crystal clear who our enemies are. All power to the people.

(Source: addtoany.com)

News, analysis and commentary from the black left.

Project by Meaghan Pogue about Dr. Monteiro and gentrification in North Philadelphia.

Students are not leaving Anderson Hall until Monteiro is reinstated #MonteiroInSoufasOut!!

It’s a beautiful day to talk about justice.

It’s a beautiful day to talk about justice.

Temple EMS was present at our last rally on April 16. Police told the Temple News that they’re not sure of what we’re capable of. We’ve only demanded meetings and answers from the administration. We haven’t used violence, but it seems as if they are ready to use it on their end.

Police presence has been heavy at our rallies. The police have been sent to protect the administrators, but who is supposed to protect the students and our rights?

Today Temple student organizations, graduate students, faculty, and north philadelphia community members will attend a student power rally at the bell tower. About 70 percent of our tuition goes to keeping the university open. If we are expected to assume insurmountable amounts of debt just to keep Temple’s lights on, then we, the students, deserve to have a say in its decision-making process. Students have real power, let’s use it today!
#Justice4Monteiro #TempleMadeIsNotPhillyMade

Today Temple student organizations, graduate students, faculty, and north philadelphia community members will attend a student power rally at the bell tower. About 70 percent of our tuition goes to keeping the university open. If we are expected to assume insurmountable amounts of debt just to keep Temple’s lights on, then we, the students, deserve to have a say in its decision-making process. Students have real power, let’s use it today!

#Justice4Monteiro #TempleMadeIsNotPhillyMade

"Rather than an isolated academic spat, the coalition sees the non-renewal of Monteiro’s contract as a revenge firing, a unilateral act by the school, a blatant disregard of students’ interests and wishes, and emblematic of Temple’s new agenda: to depoliticize its faculty, shift resources from academics to expansion and disempower any dissenters under its employ"