UPDATE ON THE STRUGGLE FOR DR. MONTEIRO (Sept. 1, 2014)

September 1, 2014

To Donors and Signers of the Call for Monteiro:

You are receiving this because you are a signer or a donor to the struggle for Dr. Anthony Monteiro. We send out a hearty thank you to all, especially to those of you who have contributed financially. All of you played a crucial role in Dr. Monteiro’s struggle and the contributions you made are still having impact.

We have two purposes in writing you now: first, to announce a change in the Monteiro coalition’s way of deploying the funds raised on his behalf through the Indiegogo campaign, in the amount of $1045 (far short of our needed $17,000 for a summer time ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education), and second, to provide you important information on the current state of the struggle for Dr. Monteiro.

This has always been about more than Dr. Monteiro; it is about the health of a vigorous and needed and historic African American Studies program at Temple, and about university relations to gentrifying dynamics in urban communities. Consequently, Dr. Monteiro, student activists, community leaders, and politicians at the highest levels of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics are still in vigorous struggle to pressure TU to reinstate Dr. Monteiro. This struggle is far from over, and because of Dr. Monteiro’s organic connection to his community and to Pennsylvania politics, this is a long-term political effort. It will take time to play out. It will certainly continue into the next academic year.

Dr. Monteiro’s contract has now expired, but even as he looks for alternative employment, he and his supporters in Philadelphia have been planning both summer and Fall activities on his behalf.

On Redeploying the Funds

It is clear now that the fundamental need for funding is at the local Philadelphia and Pennsylvania levels. The Chronicle ad would have been nice, but a summer ad does not have the greatest impact. Moreover, we feel that national and world scholars have already weighed in with significant influence with the “Call for Monteiro.” The primary need now is to deploy funds in an aggressive local and state effort on behalf of Dr. Monteiro and the issues of scholarship and social justice he represents.

The bulk of the Indiegogo funds will be re-deployed locally for hiring artists to work up a logo for the Coalition to Reinstate Dr. Monteiro. The company, Reclaim, will also be paid for producing T-shirts for the movement which, again, will highlight Dr. Monteiro’s struggle for reinstatement at Temple but as related to the broad campaign in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania legislature for community justice against gentrification and amid Temple University’s often blatant disregard for Black Philadelphians and their community needs. As a sign of how vibrant the local campaign is, a Philadelphia jazz event sponsored by the Coalition brought in additional funds that community members will use to augment the Indiegogo funds. So know that our funds are being put to first-rate use, as community social movements continue to put legs on the national campaign that we have built for Dr. Monteiro. 

The Monteiro Struggle Today 
at Temple, and in Philadelphia & Pennsylvania

Perhaps the dramatic nature and complexity of the struggle for Dr. Monteiro is best exemplified by remarks offered on the floor of the Pennsylvania legislature by State Representative W. Curtis Thomas.  Rep. Thomas is the Pennsylvania legislator for the Philadelphia District in which lies the majority of the campus of Temple University and for communities strongly affected by Temple University policies. The remarks by Rep. Thomas suggested putting a hold on some funds for Temple University (TU), which the University normally receives, if TU administrators do not respond positively to the following four conditions:

(1)Reinstate Dr. Anthony Monteiro to his post in TU’s African American Studies Department, not only because of his excellence as teacher and scholar, but also as a voucher of good faith commitment to high quality relationships between the North Philadelphia black community and the University.

(2)Reinforce Temple’s commitment to educational opportunities afforded North Philadelphia. These were significantly undermined when Temple seemed to proceed with an illegal purchase of William Penn High School, in order to build at its location its own university stadium and athletic facilities for TU students. (Under pressure from Rep. Curtis and the Monteiro movement, TU has now announced that it will work with the community to establish an educational center for the neighborhood at the former high school site, complete with a new Career Educational Technical Center.)

(3)Redress the increasing problem of a severe “lack of diversity” at Temple University, both in the ranks of its faculty and also in the upper level of its administrators.

(4)Reverse TU’s ongoing neglect of the basic needs of North Philadelphia communities that border the University. Showing good faith, here, would mean admitting more of the graduating honors students from neighboring black Philadelphia high schools and redressing students’ needs in those neighborhoods.

At present, Rep. Thomas and others are working every possible political and community angle on behalf of Dr. Monteiro, together with these broader issues. The funding from the Pennsylvania legislature to TU is not automatic, and Rep. Thomas seems to have support from both Republicans and Democrats to hold up the dispersal of these funds.

Indeed, the power of the purse-strings has been evident, as Rep. Curtis has had personal meetings with the President of Temple University, Neil Theobald, on all these matters, and especially on the firing of Dr. Monteiro.

We are upbeat, and so is Dr. Monteiro. He has reports that TU administrators have had up to 3-hour meetings on his case, and that TU knows that its reputation on these matters is not strong, in the media or in the local urban community. Dr. Monteiro’s case is at the heart of the deep concerns over urban gentrification in the TU area, and has stimulated renewed organizing around whether black folk will be allowed to live in North Philly near to Temple University.

Moreover, since Dr. Molefi Kete Asante’s independently initiated role in the firing of Dr. Monteiro (and we now know that this is the case from the highest level of Temple administrators), the African American Studies Department remains in a state of seeming chaos. Dr. Asante is trying to have it renamed Department of “Africology,”organizing it around his own version of Afrocentrism. Significantly, though, one promising young scholar in the Department just submitted last week – unannounced and just weeks before start-up of classes – her resignation from the Department. Dr. Monteiro’s stabilizing influence is still needed in the Department – now more than ever – as is his commitment to principles of community justice that he combined with rigorous scholarship in the Black radical tradition of W. E. B. Du Bois and Angela Y. Davis.

It is for the purpose of supporting these powerful local and state efforts that we now are suggesting that the funds raised for the Chronicle ad, be released to activist in the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania organizing work

Thank you everyone for your support. We will continue to keep you updated.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor, Religion and Society, Princeton Theological Seminary

Dr. Johanna Fernandez , Dept. of History and Black and Latino/a Studies

Jamila K Wilson, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

Patrice K. Armstead, Coalition for the Reinstatement of Dr. Anthony Monteiro/Philadelphia