by Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal
February 20, 2014
Solidarity supports Dr. Anthony Monteiro, and urges others to do the same. The text below is republished from a petition statement by Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ). To see the list of signers and information about how to sign the petition, please visit the EMAJ website. Also see this article for more background information.
We unite with Philadelphia faculty members, labor, community and student organizations to call for the immediate reinstatement of Professor Anthony Monteiro as Associate Professor in African-American Studies. After Dr. Monteiro’s 10 years of distinguished service in Temple University’s historic Department, the first to offer a doctorate in African-American Studies, he has been informed that his contract will not be renewed, in a letter of Jan 6, 2014 from Dean Teresa Soufas of Temple’s Liberal Arts College. No reason was given for dismissal of so highly respected a scholar, particularly for his Du Bois scholarship, but also in African American Studies, generally.
Dr. Anthony Monteiro.
We denounce and deplore this apparent violation of Dr. Monteiro’s academic freedom and this disparagement of his dignity as scholar and person. In the absence of any reasons for Dr. Monteiro’s dismissal, this refusal to renew his contract must be labeled a “retaliation firing” based on the following indicators:
- Retaliatory and threatening moves against faculty by administrators have recent precedent at Temple, especially from this Dean. Professor Monteiro’s dismissal came after he helped spearhead public campaigns that challenged the Dean’s attempt to strip the faculty of autonomy in administering of its department. In particular, Dr. Monteiro helped defend public efforts to secure African American scholars to Chair the African American Studies department, in spite of the Dean’s objection to the department’s own proposed candidates.
Scholar Lewis Gordon, previous holder of Temple’s distinguished Laura Carnell Professorship, resigned protesting racist practices and “a series of retaliatory actions” that he and other Black and Jewish staff experienced from this Dean and other administrators. He recounted these at his website and in Temple’s own Faculty Herald publication.
Gordon, who had also served on Temple’s Great Teachers Award Committee, resigned along with his wife, an award-winning scholar and teacher in political science, also reports along with others, that, on at least two occasions the Dean ordered surveillance of Black and/or Jewish faculty in their classes and on campus, and also called the police to campus when another professor mentioned Dean Soufas’ ongoing attacks against black male faculty.
Not only was no reason given for Dr. Monteiro’s dismissal, administrators also appear to hold contempt for Dr. Monteiro’s work on community issues of mass incarceration, public education, and police corruption. Following two major events organized by Dr. Monteiro on political prisoners, Mumia Abu-Jamal and Russell Maroon Shoatz, which drew large participation from the local Black community, Temple began to prohibit Dr. Monteiro from reserving campus rooms. As a result, he has been prohibited from continuing to host important gatherings on campus, like his long-standing Free Saturday School for students and community, entitled “Philosophy and Black Liberation. This policy now prohibits his organizing the W.E.B. Du Bois lectures and symposia, for which he has become known in scholarly circles. This essentially targets Monteiro’s academic freedom as well as his interaction with the community as a scholar, which in fact is called for by African American Studies’ own Mission Statement. Dean Soufas has said publicly to the Department, “I do not see a Black Community.”
Graduate students in the African-American Studies Department have organized with Black Philadelphia groups to protest what they view as a series of attacks on the Department, reporting hostility and a climate of threat designed to intimidate them.
At a Department meeting before Dr. Asante had become Chair of African American Studies, the Dean pointed her finger, disparagingly, in Dr. Asante’s face. On at least two other occasions she threatened Dr. Asante with dismissal from his faculty post.
We recognize, celebrate, and will not see demeaned Dr. Monteiro’s scholarschip and service, in the light of which his recent firing can only appear as an act of flagrant racism and repression of academic freedom. Dr. Monteiro’s eminent record includes:
- A distinguished publication record, featuring over 100 published articles and essays in varied journals. He is among the most frequently cited in his department, not only in African-American and Du Bois Studies, but also in political science, history, urban education, race, and feminist studies, to name a few. Already, Monteiro has produced five articles on Nelson Mandela and Amiri Baraka, just since their recent deaths.
Ten years of exemplary and creative professional achievements at Temple since 2003, serving as Associate Professor without tenure, after having left a tenured position at another institution for a promise of tenure at Temple. He was one key architect of the Center for the Study of Race and Social Thought at Temple, becoming its Associate Director in 2005. Although supporting Dr. Asante’s appointment as Department Chair, Professor Monteiro, along with others, was himself also nominated for that role. Further, he has served on five dissertation committees, and chaired one.
National and international renown for conceiving and directing scholarly events on W. E. B. Du Bois at Temple, hosting the annual Du Bois Lectures and Du Bois Symposia. These draw scholars from Columbia, Princeton, Drexel, UPENN and elsewhere. As a leader in Du Bois studies, the University of Pennsylvania selected Monteiro to bestow upon Du Bois its Emeritus Professorship in Africana Studies and Sociology. He is especially respected for his fresh theorization of Du Bois’ Black Reconstruction in America as form of “historical logic.”
Unusually strong student respect and support at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Monteiro’s Du Bois seminars are deservedly popular, as also his graduate course in Black Social and Political Thought. These draw students from multiple departments. In 2005 and 2007 he received merit points for scholarship and teaching. Understandably many of his students are in the forefront of today’s struggle for his reinstatement.
Innovative planning of University & Community Relations in Temple’s North Philadelphia community. Dr. Monteiro started the ongoing Free Saturday School, granting Temple students of many disciplines a vibrant interaction with the community. He leads neighborhood studies of Martin Luther King’s work, and consistently shows up at public events, often bringing his sociological expertise to bear on mass incarceration issues. Monteiro thus embodies the Department’s own commitment to linking its discipline to “positive change in our communities” (“Mission,” second paragraph).
An embodying for our time of Du Bois’ tradition of political critique and public resistance in the face of systems of domination, whether in society or the academy. In this regard, we note his forming “The Radical Philosophy Circle” for Temple students, his decades of public support for innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal (even hosting campus screenings of the award-winning documentary on Abu-Jamal, and featuring phone conferences with Abu-Jamal in his classes). He hosted at Temple a book party for Maroon the Implacable, a volume of essays by political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. Monteiro also organizes support for the community’s political leaders, as with his conference in 2012, “Pam Africa: Our Revolutionary Daughter of the Dust.”
We scholars stand vigilantly behind Dr. Monteiro knowing that today, throughout the U.S. academy and nation, programs in African American and Ethnic studies are all too frequently attacked or neglected by small groups of deans, provosts, and board members. These often use their power to foster or tolerate misrepresentation, harassment, repression, and removal of reputable scholars of color and conscience–those most necessary for equipping us all with knowledge for promoting and guarding a truly just society.
The reinstatement of Dr. Anthony Monteiro is essential for Temple University now to safeguard its historic reputation in African American Studies.