Members of Temple’s African American Studies Department held a rally in front of the Bell Tower today in protest of the appointment of Jayne Drake, a white woman, as chairwoman of the department.
The rally, which was held between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., featured undergraduate and graduate student speakers, as well as many speakers from the North Philadelphia community.
“We just hope to put pressure on the university so that they can have more respect for minority studies, and that’s all disciplines, africana studies, asian studies, women’s studies, queer studies,” said Sabrina Sample, a political science major who is minoring in African American studies.
One protester at the event stood in silence, waving two large Pan-African flags, one sign held by a protester read “save black studies.”
Ronald Amour, a local community activist, spoke at the event and helped introduce several of the other speakers. Amour complemented the crowd that had gathered in from of the tower, saying that the diversity of the students assembled showed solidarity with the people in the African American studies department.
The crowd was openly critical of Teresa Soufas, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, for appointing Drake to the head of the African American studies department. They called for Molefi Asante, the former chairperson and current professor in the department, to be given the appointment as the popular decision among the departments students.
The crowds repeatedly broke out in chants of “We want Asante,” and “Soufas must go.” Several speakers at the event, which was open mic, accused Soufas of being a “racist,” and irresponsive to the needs and wishes of the professors and students in the department.