Temple students and Cornel West rally around fired African-American Studies professor

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They swarmed a North Broad Street intersection Thursday night to demand justice for Temple University instructor Anthony Monteiro, whose one-year contract wasn’t renewed for next school year.

For more than two hours, students and residents railed against the decision during the latest protest aimed at reinstating the popular African-American Studies professor.

“We are out here making our voices heard. We will continue to make our voices heard until our demands our met,” said Temple junior Paul-Winston Cange, one of Monteiro’s students.

In January, Monteiro, a non-tenured instructor, learned that the university was not offering him another annual contract after nearly a decade on the job.

The news stunned and even enraged some students, who saw the move as purely retaliatory.

It also kicked off a string of weekly protests calling for Temple not only to give Monteiro his job back, but to make him a tenured professor.

Thursday’s gathering outside of Morgan Hall on Cecil B. Moore Avenue was a bit different. It was headlined by national civil rights activist and influential academic Cornel West.

“When you attack Tony Monteiro, you attack a black man named Cornel West too. Ain’t no doubt about that brother,” said the Princeton emeritus professor who currently teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

“You’re attacking Angela Davis, you’re attacking [W.E.B.] Dubois, you’re attacking the memory of Paul Robeson, you’re attacking the memory of Sinclair Drake. I’m talking about a tradition. This is not just about individuals.”

West also called directly on Temple University President Neil Theobald to “do the right thing.”

“When you do the right thing, you’re going to treat Tony Monteiro right, but you’re also going to treat all of the precious and priceless members of this community with respect,” said West.

Monteiro and his supporters maintain that he wasn’t asked back, in part, because he opposed the new chair of the African-American studies department.

As the sun set over Cecil B. Moore Avenue, Monteiro deemed his firing “cynical.”

“As painful and difficult as it was to find out my contract was not renewed, I have come to view this whole situation as an opportunity, in fact a magnificent opportunity to stand up and to stand up with people,” he said.

Temple issued a statement saying Monteiro was let go after “thoughtful consideration” and “in accordance with university processes.”

“The University has processes in place for each of the affected faculty to exercise his right to contest the decision, and this process is ongoing,” reads part of the statement.

Monteiro’s current contract expires on June 30.

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