Independent presidential candidate Cornel West on Wednesday announced that California State University, Los Angeles professor Melina Abdullah will be his running mate.

“I wanted somebody whose heart mind and soul is committed to the empowerment of poor and working peoples of all colors,” West told Tavis Smiley on Smiley’s KBLA 1580 radio show.

“Melina has a history of — longevity of putting her heart, mind and soul in the struggle,” West added.

Abdullah is a professor of Pan-African studies and formerly chaired the Department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State.

West is seeking ballot access in states across the country for his long-shot campaign, which has registered in the low single digits in public polling but could have a big impact on a close 2024 election between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. West has been a critic of Biden’s presidency from the left, and he criticized both major-party candidates in the interview Wednesday.

“Trump is leading the country toward a second Civil War, Biden is leading the world toward World War III,” West said Wednesday, adding, “That’s the choice you have if you only are tied to the duopoly. … We are providing an alternative.”

“I’ve been keeping up with his campaign,” Abdullah told Smiley, adding: “I’ve been really, really inspired. I mean, a platform of truth, love and justice? What kind of platform is that? How can you not get behind that platform?”

Abdullah said that she first met West when she was an undergraduate student at Howard University, and she kept in loose contact with him throughout her career as an academic.

In July 2023, she, West and Smiley connected during an event commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Black Lives Matter movement. West asked Abdullah to join the ticket last week, she said.

“She’s a love warrior,” West told Smiley.

Abdullah has been outspoken on X, formerly known as Twitter, on several political issues. As recently as December, she compared the New York Police Department to the KKK and referred to the Israeli military, the Israel Defense Forces, as the “Israeli Occupation Forces,” a term used by some progressives.

After the release of Beyoncé’s latest album release last month, which features the singer riding a horse while holding an American flag, Abdullah wrote on X, “The #AmericanFlag symbolizes the genocide of Indigenous people, the theft of their land, the enslavement, dehumanization, and exploitation of Black people, and settler colonialism. Critique around @Beyonce’s artistic choice is important and healthy, not hate.”

Abdullah also spoke out against singer Taylor Swift earlier this year, posting on X, “Why do I feel like it’s slightly racist to be a Taylor Swift fan?”

Later that month, Abdullah shared a threatening voicemail she received and captioned the video, “If this is what a tweet about @taylorswift13 fans being ‘slightly racist’ brings, I’ll edit myself…Y’all are full-fledged violent white-delusionists.”

Abdullah has been involved in the Black Lives Matter movement for many years and spoke to Smiley about the importance of being the only all-Black ticket in the presidential race this year.

“Sister Melina and I have been running for justice for the last number of decades,” West told Smiley.

“We need people to run for office who are already running for justice,” he added.

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