Protesters have assailed Los Angeles Community College District trustees for selecting a Latino man over three African American women to fill a vacant board seat.
The board’s choice of David Vela, a former Montebello school board member with deep political connections, will leave the seven-member governing board of the nation’s largest community college district with only one woman and no African American trustee, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Trustees unanimously selected Vela last month to finish out the term of Sydney Kamlager-Dove, an African American who was elected to the state Assembly. As a result, the board now has four Latinos, two whites and one Asian American.
Among the nine-college district’s 148,000 students, about 58.5 percent are Latino, 14.8 percent white, 9.5 percent African American and 7.53 percent Asian, according to 2017 state data.
Dozens of protesters of all races Wednesday packed the downtown Los Angeles board room, many wearing black shirts printed with “Shame on You” and accusations of cronyism, sexism and racism. Some called on Vela to step down, The Times reported.
Melina Abdullah, a Cal State Los Angeles professor of Pan-African Studies and leader in the Black Lives Matter movement who was one of the candidates passed over, delivered fiery warnings to trustees during public comments that activists would mobilize against them for their actions.
“This is erasure of black representation,” she said. “It’s absolutely shameful.”
Sandra Lee, a psychology professor at Los Angeles Southwest College, said it was painful that African American students would no longer have a role model on the board, according to The Times.
“The LACCD probably educates more African American students than any community college district in California, and it’s just disheartening not to have a voice and seat at the table,” she said.
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