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NAJEE’S NOTES: Trustee appointment disrespects black community

By Najee Ali

Contributing Writer

The Los Angeles Community College District and its current trustees disrespected the African-American community after a unanimous vote last week by the board to appoint David Vela to fill the vacancy left when Sydney Kamlager-Dove resigned her seat representing District 3 after she was elected to the state Assembly.

Vela will serve the remainder of Kamlager-Dove’s term and will be the fourth Latino on the board with no African-American representation.

Dallas Fowler, a former city commissioner appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, and I spoke at length this week. Fowler was considered the favorite for the seat and had a wide cross section of community support.

“Black students comprise 12 percent of the LACCD student body, the largest number of black students in any system of higher education in the state,” Fowler said. “Each trustee knows the importance of having African-American representation on the board. There were several well-qualified African-American candidates that applied and presented.

“Beyond the remaining trustees’ lack of any real effort to agree on a qualified African-American candidate, they also overlooked a diverse mix of exceptionally well-qualified women candidates overall. There were 26 applications — most them submitted by women. The board is now down to only one woman serving. We still have real work to do in Los Angeles to bring gender parity in our elected and appointed leadership.”

Fowler had the endorsement and support of Garcetti, Inglewood Mayor James Butts and L.A. school board member George McKenna III.

On social media, Fowler said “I was very proud that there were several well-qualified African-American women and strong diverse women applicants overall who sought the appointment to the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees last week. Thank you to all who supported my application.

“I had an opportunity to discuss this seat with Kevin De Leon, the first Mexican-American pro tem of the California Senate, and he said to me that it would be a miscarriage of leadership for the trustees to leave the board without any African-American representation.”

Well, looks like there is a complete and total miscarriage of leadership here as the remaining six trustees voted unanimously to fill the vacancy of Seat 3 by appointing a fourth male Latino to the board, David Vela.

I have known and worked with Fowler for several years now. She has been recognized as one of the most influential young leaders in the city and will continue to advocate and fight for our community.

I personally feel that she was robbed of that appointment. And at the very least the board could have at least appointed one of several other African-Americans who sought the position. The trustees selection of another Latino male speaks to who they truly are as individuals. The interests of African-Americans students and diversity clearly aren’t a priority for them.


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