San Diego State University, a public university located in San Diego, California, was embroiled in a recent controversy when a list of suggested speakers went public. The university’s list included a spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, Ava Muhammad, which inclusion led to public outcry and backlash.
The university explored suggested speakers for an upcoming summit on reparations for slavery, and included Muhammad’s name on the list of five suggested speakers for the summit. The summit’s origin came from four graduate students, who were awarded $68,000 for developing programs to improve the lives of SDSU’s black community.
San Diego State University removed her name from the list and published a statement on Twitter, which in part said, “We strongly reject anti-semitic, and other disparaging messages and actions. SDSU will offer support to the student organizer to ensure that the original basis for the event – a critical exploration of slavery and reparations – can proceed.”
The Nation of Islam, headed by Louis Farrakhan, is highly critical of Jews and other ethnic groups. Muhammad, according to media reports, once called Jews “bloodsucking parasites.” As a spokeswoman for the Nation of Islam, Muhammad speaks to student groups and the public about the Nation of Islam.
It is confusing that the university permitted the inclusion of a Nation of Islam speaker in its original list of speakers, considering how controversial the group is. A simple internet search would have uncovered many of their controversial statements. Additionally, there was little outcry over the subject of the proposed summit—slave reparations.