Independent Candidate Cornel West Announces Running Mate

Independent Candidate Cornel West Announces Running Mate
Cornel West (C) attends a protest against police brutality in Washington Square Park in New York on Oct. 24, 2015. (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)
Savannah Hulsey Pointer

Independent presidential candidate Cornel West has announced that Melina Abdullah will be his running mate, during a radio interview on April 10.

Ms. Abdullah is an activist and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Los Angeles. During the interview with host Tavis Smiley, Ms. Abdullah said that she “identifies as Muslim” and believes that she is the first Muslim candidate.

According to her LinkedIn profile, the vice presidential candidate currently serves as professor and chair of Pan-African Studies at California State University–Los Angeles. She lists some of her noteworthy articles and book chapters as “The Emergence of a Black Feminist Leadership Model,” “Hip Hop as Political Expression,” and “Capitalistic Hands around My Throat: Corporate Control and the Erosion of Hip Hop’s Womanist Roots.”

During the interview, Ms. Abdullah said: “I also step into this, recognizing that it is not me. I’m grateful to be a spokesperson, but I also carry a movement with me. ... I come into this as one who seeks to abide by the will of the Most High and to do righteous work. If I have a mantra ... my mantra is just do the work and live as righteously as possible.”

Before the interview, Mr. West announced on his campaign website that he would soon share the news.

“We will joyfully open a new chapter in this ’moment in a movement,' by announcing a committed candidate for Vice President who stands in solidarity with poor, oppressed and forgotten people everywhere,” the website states.

“Together we will call upon the collective courage of every individual to value their vote and choose to stand with us to utterly dismiss the division, greed, and violence of the corporate-owned duopoly. We invite all to abandon these tired false choices and stand on the ’side' of humanity itself.”

The campaign noted that the addition of a vice presidential candidate would allow Mr. West’s campaign to “further progress in additional key states which require a VP candidate to obtain ballot access and give voters an independent choice alongside the duopoly candidates.”

Mr. West’s decision came just weeks after the No Labels organization announced it would not field a unity ticket in the 2024 presidential election.
The group made its announcement on April 4, saying: “No Labels has always said we would only offer our ballot line to a ticket if we could identify candidates with a credible path to winning the White House. No such candidates emerged, so the responsible course of action is for us to stand down.”

Past Parties

In October 2023, Mr. West announced that he would leave the Green Party to continue his 2024 presidential campaign as an independent.

“People are hungry for change. They want good policies over partisan politics. We need to break the grip of the duopoly and give power to the people,” he wrote on X, formerly Twitter, at the time.

“I’m running as an Independent candidate for President of the United States to end the iron grip of the ruling class and ensure true democracy!”

The left-wing candidate has altered his party affiliation twice since he declared his presidential candidacy in June 2023. Initially, he declared himself a candidate of the People’s Party, an organization founded five years prior that spent most of its early days unsuccessfully attempting to recruit Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) as its leader.

However, in less than two weeks, Mr. West shifted to the Green Party, a comparatively more established and well-known organization on a national scale.

Mr. West is an author and former professor at Harvard and Princeton universities. In the past, he deemed former President Barack Obama to be a “war criminal” and endorsed the presidential campaigns of Mr. Sanders, a democratic socialist, in 2016 and 2020.

According to Mr. West’s campaign website, the key issues of his platform are largely dedicated to advancing progressive causes, including raising the national minimum wage to $27 per hour, creating a wealth tax on “all billionaire holdings and transactions,” nationalizing the fossil fuel industry, and working to cancel all oil drilling and pipeline construction projects across the nation.

Bill Pan contributed to this report.