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DEMONSTRATORS DROWN OUT PA GOV. CORBETT

By Betsey Piette

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 Lots of media were on hand Oct. 21 to record the moment whenPennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett put his signature on the “Revictimization Relief Act” – dubbed the “Silence Mumia Law” by civil rights activists.  The problem was that none of media could hear Corbett speak.  Nearly 50 protesters standing a short distance away from Corbett’s press conference at 13th and Locust Sts in Philadelphia drowned him out with constant chants of “Our brother Mumia is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” and “One term Tom!” (photo above, from Philadelphia Magazine online, Oct. 21, 2014)

 In what would seem to be a Hail Mary effort to revive his failing reelection bid, Corbett, his political business allies and the Fraternal Order of Police cynically set up shop on a sheltered portable stage at the location where Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed in Dec. 1981.  Political activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, who happened upon the scene, was framed by police for the shooting and subsequently served over 30 years on death row before being released into general prison population in 2011. Abu-Jamal maintains his innocence.

 The same movement that has steadfastly fought to free Abu-Jamal responded with less than 24-hours notice to turn out on a weekday to confront the state’s latest effort to silence him.  They were joined by prisoner rights groups and civil liberties forces that see the anti-Abu-Jamal law as a blanket attack on the constitutional rights of all prisoners, and a dangerous precedent at a time when more attention is focused on mass incarceration.

 Several protesters wore orange prison-style jumpsuits and carried signs depicting the activities that would be banned under the legislation intended to muffle Mumia.  One read “I spoke out against abuse in prison, now Corbett & FOP want to silence me.”

 Demonstrators also linked the efforts to silence Abu-Jamal with the government’s militarized response to those protesting police brutality in Ferguson, Mo. since the police murder of unarmed African-American youth Michael Brown.  One chant today was “From Ferguson to Philly, we say NO! Killer cops have got to go!”

 A large hand lettered sign carried a statement given by Abu-Jamal to prison radio in response to the bill.  It read “I welcome Gov. Corbett’s signature on an unconstitutional bill that proves that the PA executive and the legislature don’t give one whit about the constitutions of the Commonwealth or the U.S. It proves that they are the outlaws,” signed Mumia Abu-Jamal.

 “Having failed to kill Mumia in the street in 1981, and having failed to execute him during his over 30 years on death row, the FOP and the government of Pennsylvania continues to try to silence him, this time by extinguishing his speech,” said Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.

 The demonstrators who turned out today made it clear that the state’s efforts are in vain.  They stayed in the street for an impromptu rally that went on some time after the Corbett forces abandoned the area.  A day of activities is also planned for Oct. 22 to broaden the movement to free Abu-Jamal and in observation of the national day against police brutality and mass incarceration.

EMAJ Notes also this, from years-long Philadelphia activist for Mumia, Lee James:

“We did so well.  Listening and watching I felt we do have a movement here and it gets stronger everytime they come at us.  New people, new determination – it was truly power to the people. They had to come out in such force and it truly meant nothing. They have nothing.  We spoke of Ferguson, Palestine, prisoners, MOVE.  .  It was our people all over the world.  Thank you all – and to the future,  Lee.”

. . . and FROM PROFESSOR JOHANNA FERNANDEZ OF EMAJ AND THE CAMPAIGN TO BRING MUMIA HOME: 

“Simple words can’t really capture what happened today. In the face of their antiseptic, proto-fascist ceremony, our side resounded with spirit, volume, color and poetry. People who were walking by wanted to hear more from our side, than from the white-man-march of 20 put on display by the cops and their followers.

It was truly a moment of the people and there were so many beautiful moments: our group trickled-in, a few at a time; but right at the start of the proceedings, when I looked back I saw that we had grown strong and I could see an abundance of colorful signs and banners with the beautiful Free Mumia NOW banner in front, which was photographed quite a bit by the media. And then there was that moment of fear at the beginning of the proceedings right before we broke the orchestrated ceremonial silence of the event and started chanting, strong, Brick By Brick, Wall by Wall, We’re Gonna Free Mumia Abu Jamal.  The chants kept rolling throughout the proceedings and at some point Bro. Kamau decided to lift up our voices by pulling out the bull-horn (great idea!), which he used for a bit before the cops ask us to put it away. And then half way through the ceremony, Ramona couldn’t take it anymore and she broke out in speech and started exposing the contradiction of the term “victim relief,” in a city that dropped a bomb on the MOVE house. There was also a moment when a passerby said something about her son being in prison; at some point when we realized that the Bill was being signed we booed the Governor and before long Pam emerged from the back of the crowd with a liberated bull horn to tell us that this charade of a bill was a sign of weakness on the part of these fools in power and that they just went ahead a dragged themselves into a fight that they are most certainly going to lose. We got a kick-ass lecture from Tony, about the special role played by the people at the bottom of society during Philadelphia’s constitutional debates at the birth of the nation and we heard from a Brother whose imprisoned nephew was framed by the courts. We were so bad-ass that they didn’t quite know what to do with us as we bum-rushed their parade.

There were so many other classic moments; but above all this was another one of those moments of truth when the Mumia movement did what it had to do: confront power head-on in the streets — and it was beautiful.

I’m proud to be in this struggle with all of you.

Love,

Johanna

 

CALL TO ACTION AGAINST PA LAWS TO SILENCE PRISONERS


prisonThis “Call to Action” is also a summons to all persons 
of conscience to protest in Philadelphia, October 22, 2014.
To add your name to this call as an organization or individual, email sophia.williams@baruchmail.cuny.edu.
For details see www.bringmumiahome.com, www.prisonradio.org and www.freemumia.com.

Also – sign the 3,000 plus, and growing, PETITION AT ROOTS-ACTION on this issue.

________________________________________________________________________________

We the undersigned stand unequivocally against the passage, in Pennsylvania, of House Bill HB2533 on October 15, 2014 and PA Senate Bill SB508 on October 16, 2014. Because the bill was fast-tracked in the legislature, the Governor of Pennsylvania is already poised to sign the bill into law.

Known collectively as the “Revictimization Relief Act,” the laws affords virtually unlimited discretion to District Attorneys and the Attorney General to silence prisoner speech, by claiming that such speech causes victims’ families “mental anguish.” This law targets both prisoners’ speech and supporters who sponsor that speech. Thus, under the guise of victim relief, politicians are claiming a power that if granted to them will be difficult if not impossible for citizens to check.

In seeking to silence the legally protected speech of prisoners the law establishes a precedent for the further erosion of First Amendment rights. In so violating prisoners’ speech, the state also damages citizens’ right and freedom to know —in this case, to consider the speech of the imprisoned to better understand an area of U.S. life physically removed from public scrutiny. The courts have consistently upheld the right of prisoners to constitutionally protected speech; with little success government and prison officials have sought to curtail that speech for political reasons, often claiming safety concerns.

“Victim relief,” while a worthy goal in itself, is only to be achieved by just verdict and the extension of due process to all parties involved. Victim relief is not served by denying fundamental rights to those convicted, especially because prisoner freedom of speech is crucial for redressing wrongful convictions and the current crisis of harsh sentencing that is often disproportionate to alleged crimes.

Our society is currently engaged in a full-scale debate on the problems of mass incarceration. This debate could not have grown without the articulation, by prisoners themselves in the press, exposing systemic violations of their rights in the courts and the dehumanizing conditions of prison life.

This legislation emerged as a politically-charged response, on the part of the Fraternal Order of Police and its political allies, because they failed to stop Pennsylvania prisoner and radio journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal from delivering his October 5, 2014 commencement address at Goddard College in Vermont, from where Abu-Jamal earned his BA in 1996 while on death row. Students at Goddard collectively chose Abu-Jamal as their commencement speaker and the administration supported the invitation. In this case, this law would deny the school the right to hear from its alum, Abu-Jamal.

To block Abu-Jamal’s free speech at Goddard College would have been a violation in itself. But this law goes further and sacrifices the rights of all prisoners in Pennsylvania in order to silence Abu-Jamal. This is an unethical deployment of collective punishment by those in power.

At stake in this legislation is the very premise on which U.S. democracy was erected — the notion that in order to achieve a robust engagement with and understanding of society and its problems, the state cannot be allowed to silence unpopular or dissenting voices. Instead of defending constitutional rights, Pennsylvania politicians appear to be far more interested in promoting their own interests and political vendettas. The Bill was debated in an atmosphere that reflected an unethical process riddled with political maneuverings, rather than fair and informed deliberation.

As PA Senator Daylin Leach confirmed in his vote against the legislation: This is the most extreme violation of the First Amendment imaginable.” This law has a chilling effect that prevents any prisoner from speaking out on any issue for fear of a retaliatory civil suit.

This law, therefore, violates the public trust we expect from legislators. It is an attack on our freedom, a freedom that must be guarded — especially when and if officials do not agree with the content of speech they hear.

We oppose and protest Pennsylvania’s abuse of state power and its trampling of the fundamental human rights of all — of students to hear Abu-Jamal, of teachers and journalists to access perspectives of the imprisoned and, by extension, of everyone who deserves the free flow of information in society.

With the growing number of executions by the police across the country and the passage of flagrantly unconstitutional laws as seen in Pennsylvania, we the people have to organize collectively in our neighborhoods and in the streets to oppose the increasingly ominous display of rogue state power in Pennsylvania.

Join us in Philadelphia for a day of action on October 22, 2014. Press Conference at 12PM. Honk against the Bill at 4PM and Town Hall Meeting at 6:00PM.

For information:

www.bringmumiahome.com * www.prisonradio.org * www.freemumia.com

 Signatories:
(institutions after names given for identification purposes only)

International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ)

National Lawyers Guild

Decarcerate-PA

Center for Constitutional Rights

Prison Radio

Cornel West

Frantz Fanon Foundation, France

MOVE

Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ)

Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)

Keith D. Cook, the Cook Family & Friends

International Action Center/IAC

Campaign to End the New Jim Crow

Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI)

National Jericho Movement

Netfa Freeman, Voices With Vision on WPFW 89.3 FM, Washington DC

German Network Against the Death Penalty and to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal

Committee to Save Mumia Abu-Jamal

Sankofa Community Empowerment

Mobilization to Free Abu-Jamal/Northern California

Le Collectif Français “Libérons Mumia”

Amig@s de Mumia de México

Resistance in Brooklyn

Megan Gabriel, The DC Childcare Collective

Workers World

Freedom Archives

Carl Dix, Revolutionary Communist Party, USA

Komitee Free Mumia Wien, Austria

Iyaluua Ferguson

New Jim Crow Movement, Florida

Free Marissa Now (FMN) Mobilizing Campaign

Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series, Burlington, VT

Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity (BOLD)

Samuel Légitimus, Collectif James Baldwin de Paris

Talib Kweli

Frances Goldin

Laura Whitehorn

Dave Lindorff, Journalist, Founding Editor of ThisCantBeHappening.net

National Jericho Movement

Prison Action Network

Family & Friends of Incarcerated People (FFOIP)

Campaign to End the New Jim Crow

Blue Carreker, Citizen Action of New York Campaign Manager

Askia Coalition Against Police Brutality

Human Rights Coalition-Philadelphia Chapter

Tracy Frisch

Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary

Alice Sturm Sutter, North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice

Pinky Stanseski & Sophie Stanseski

Daniel Vila, Green Party Candidate

Kemah C. Washington

David Swanson, Campaign Coordiantor of RootsAction.org

Didier Paillard, Maire (Mayor) de Saint-Denis (France)

Soffiyah Elijah, Executive Director of Correctional Association of New York

Linda Guillebeaux, Sekou Odinga Defense

International Committee for the Freedom of the Cuban 5

Students Against Mass Incarceration (SAMI)

TO POLICE & POLITICIANS – HANDS OFF GODDARD COLLEGE!

Mumia-Abu-Jamal-2013-web

by Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College (CUNY) and
Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary
Coordinators, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ)

Students at Goddard College in Vermont will hear Pennsylvania imprisoned journalist, Mumia Abu-Jamal, give their commencement address this Sunday, October 5, 2014. (Abu-Jamal photo, 2013, above left)

Police and supporting conservative politicians are up in arms, denouncing Goddard College, even pressing for cancellation of Abu-Jamal’s address.

Abu-Jamal’s speech will have to be a pre-recorded speech, a genre the veteran journalist has honed to award-winning form, in local Philadelphia radio and for National Public Radio. His skills and awards came prior to being convicted in 1982 for the killing of Officer Daniel Faulkner, and before he served over 29 years on death row. His death sentence was ruled unconstitutional in 2001, and finally vacated in 2011. He now serves a life sentence in a Pennsylvania prison.

From death row and prison, Abu-Jamal’s renown only grew. He has authored thousands of audio and print essays, and eight books. He also earned a Bachelors degree (Goddard College) and a Masters degree (California State University/Dominguez Hills) while in prison. He has become “the voice of the voiceless” for many repressed voices in the nation and world. While he is, himself, a life-long critic of racist brutal cops, he wrote in defense of LA police whose federal retrial for the 1992 Rodney King beating he saw as “clear violation” of their freedom from “double-jeopardy.”

His humanity, courage, power of pen and mind, as well as the flagrant injustice of his own treatment during trial and appeals, have drawn human rights activists’ attention. Amnesty International declared his 1982 trial “in violation of minimum international standards that govern fair trial procedures.” South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu demands he “be released immediately.”

The conservative media, the Fraternal Order of Police, their political cronies like Pennsylvania’s Senator Pat Toomey and its Governor Thomas Corbett, along with the state’s head of the Department of Corrections – all find Goddard’s invitation an outrage, an affront to law enforcement, to all society.

We beg to differ. In many ways, Abu-Jamal, imprisoned for decades, is this nation’s Nelson Mandela. He’s a life-long fighter against entrenched white racism. He is part of a generation of political activists, who during the 1960s and 1970s felt the full force of state repression. Armed state agents murdered Black radicals, unleashed illegal operations like COINTELPRO against them, attacked activists and their families, and destroyed programs led by organizers from Black, Latino, and Indian communities. Having committed no crime, the FBI still compiled a 600-page file on Abu-Jamal, beginning when he was a 15-year old writer for the Black Panther Party, which continued even after he left the Party after two years. Abu-Jamal received death threats from police on the streets. He was nearly beaten to death by the police who wrongfully apprehended him for Officer Faulkner’s shooting death. Abu-Jamal and many other US political prisoners should be honored, and Abu-Jamal especially for his fortitude, and for his role in galvanizing movements of conscience the world over. We need his voice more than ever, as we face today’s violence of brutal policing and entrenched mass incarceration.

We can admit rights to free speech for police and conservative politicians, but Mumia has that right, too. His freedom to address Goddard College students is further reinforced by the Pennsylvania Corrections Department’s own policies. The head of Corrections himself has said he cannot – in spite of his desire to do so – “pull the plug” on Abu-Jamal’s address.

But Mumia’s free speech right is even more important for an additional reason: his voice as a US political prisoner is often marginalized, demonized, repressed and silenced. Hearing from that kind of voice is not just a matter of fairness, it is also an act of justice necessary to the hearing of truth. It is a way to rectify the flagrant injustice of the state against the leaders of poor and racially targeted communities of the 1960s and 1970s.

As educators we know that truth demands hearing voices beyond those that are typically respected and securely lodged at the centers and upper echelons of power. No, as many scholars emphasize, the crucial role in society is played by the unexpected voices, indeed often by the disrespected voices among the marginalized, excluded and repressed. As a political prisoner, who was framed in the courts for his political beliefs and affiliations, Abu-Jamal brings these voices, and in ways unrivaled speaks and writes eloquently with fairness, humanity, humor, inspiration, and intellectual cogency. He is a seasoned public intellectual, and students know this.

Mumia’s voice is unwanted and feared by intimidating police and politicians, and their conservative media consorts. They are guardians of the center. In spite of their own rights to free speech, when they become a center that quashes the right to speak of needed voices from among the marginalized and politically repressed, they cease being a center worthy of public respect.

And so we say to those who would silence political prisoner Abu-Jamal again: “Hands off Goddard College students! Cease and desist from disparaging their choice to hear Abu-Jamal’s voice from prison on their graduation day.” The students occupy the moral and intellectual high ground. Let them proceed without intimidation by officials who command guns and prisons. The youth of today, those who must forge tomorrow’s freedom and real democracy, should be neither chained nor intimidated by guardians of the old center.

So, to Mumia Abu-Jamal and Goddard College – we say, “let the address begin!”

Johanna Fernandez, Ph.D.
Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Coordinator
Department of History & Department of Black and Latino Studies
Baruch College, CUNY

Mark Lewis Taylor, Ph.D.
Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal, Coordinator
Princeton Theological Seminary

LATEST UPDATE on Mumia, MLK and the Oakland School District (Aug 2014)

Protest Now! No To Police Censorship of Mumia, and Teachers! 

Reinstate the Urban Dreams Website!

Action Still Needed! Please send messages to the School Board!

– Scroll down for School Board addresses –

Here’s what happened: Under pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)—operating through a friendly publicity agent called Fox News—the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) earlier this year shut down an entire website composed of teacher-drafted curriculum material called Urban Dreams.  Why?  Because this site included course guidelines on the censorship of innocent political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal!  The course material compared the censorship of Mumia’s extensive radio commentaries and writings, with that of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s later writings, which focused on class exploitation and his opposition to the US’ imperialist War against Vietnam. Both were effectively silenced by the big media, including in Mumia’s case, by National Public Radio (NPR).

Mumia Is Innocent! But He’s Still a Top Target of FOP

Abu-Jamal has long been a top-row target for the FOP, which tried to get him legally killed for decades.  Mumia was framed by the Philadelphia police and falsely convicted of murdering a Philadelphia policeman in 1982, with the extensive collaboration of lying prosecutors, corrupt courts, the US Justice Department, and key political figures.

Mumia’s death sentence was dropped only when a federal appeals court judge set it aside because of blatantly illegal jury instructions by the original highly racist trial judge.  (The same federal judge upheld every bogus detail of Mumia’s conviction.)  The local Philadelphia prosecutor and politicians chickened out of trying to get Mumia’s original death sentence reinstated due to the fact that all their evidence of his guilt had long been exposed as totally fraudulent!

FOP: Can’t Kill Him? Silence Him!

The FOP had to swallow the fact that the local mucky-mucks had dropped the ball on executing Mumia, but they were rewarded with a substitute sentence of life without the possibility of parole, imposed by a local court acting in secret.  Mumia is now serving this new and equally unjust sentence of “slow death.”

This gets us back to the FOP’s main point here, which is to silence Mumia. They can’t stop Mumia from writing and recording his world-renownd commentaries (which are available at Prison Radio, www.prisonradio.org). But they look for any opportunity to smear and discredit Mumia, and keep him out of the public eye; and these snakes have found a morsel on the Urban Dreams web site to go after!

Urban Dreams Was Well Used by Teachers

Urban Dreams was initially set up under a grant from the federal Dept. of Education in 1999-2004 and contains teacher-written material on a wide variety of issues.  It is (was) used extensively in California and beyond. The OUSD’s knee-jerk reaction to shut the whole site down because of a complaint from police, broadcast on the all-powerful Fox News network, shows the rapid decline of the US into police-state status.  Why should we let a bunch of lying, vicious cops, whose only real job is to protect the wealthy and powerful from all of us, get away with this?

Fresh from defeating Obama’s nominee to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department because he served for a period as Mumia’s attorney, the FOP is attacking a school lesson plan that asks students to think outside the box of system propaganda. But the grave-diggers of capitalist oppression are stirring.

Labor Says No To Police Persecution of Mumia!

In 1999, the Oakland teachers union, Oakland Education Association (OEA), held an unauthorized teach-in on Mumia and the death penalty.  Later the same year, longshore workers in the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) shut down all West-Coast ports to Free Mumia.  Other teacher actions happened around the country and internationally.  And now the Alameda County Labor Council, acting on a resolution submitted by an OEA member, has denounced the FOP-inspired shutdown of Urban Dreams, and called for the site’s complete restoration (ie no deletions).

Labor Says No To Censorship of Mumia, and Teachers!

We are asking union members particularly, and everyone else as well, if you abhor police-sponsored censorship of school curricula, and want to see justice and freedom for the wrongfully convicted such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, send your message of protest now to the Oakland School Board, at the three addresses below.

Union members: take the resolution below to your local union or labor council, and get it passed!

Whatever you do, send a copy of your protest letter or resolution, or a report of your actions, to Oakland Teachers for Mumia, at communard2@juno.com.

Here is the Alameda County Labor Council resolution: 

_   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _   _

Labor Speaks: Urban Dreams Censorship Resolution

Alameda County Labor Council

Whereas Mumia Abu-Jamal, an award winning journalist, defender of the rights of the working class, people of color, and oppressed people has been imprisoned since 1982 without parole for a crime he didn’t commit after his death sentence was finally overturned;

Whereas the Oakland Unified School District’s censorship of the Urban Dreams website was in reaction to a Fox News and Fraternal Order of Police attack on a lesson plan asking students to consider a parallel between censorship of Martin Luther King’s radical ideas and censorship of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and;

Whereas it is dangerous and unacceptable to allow the police to determine the curriculum of a major school district like Oakland, or any school district;

Whereas removal of the Urban Dreams OUSD website denies educators and student access to invaluable curriculum resources by Oakland teachers with social justice themes promoting critical thinking, and;

Whereas in 1999, the Oakland Education Association led the teach-in on Mumia Abu-Jamal and the death penalty which helped deepen the debate in the U.S. on the death penalty itself, and greatly intensified the spotlight on the widespread issue of wrongful conviction and demanded justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and;

Whereas OEA and Alameda Contra Costa County Service Center of CTA cited the Mumia teach-in and the censored unit on Martin Luther King Jr. in its Human Rights WHO AWARD for 2013;

Be it resolved that the Alameda Labor Council condemns OUSD’s censorship of the Urban Dreams website and demands that it immediately restore access to all materials on the website, reaffirms its demand for justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal, and issues a press release to seek the widest possible support from defenders of free speech and those who seek justice for Mumia.

– Submitted by Keith Brown, OEA

– Passed, Alameda County Labor Council, 14 July 2014

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Now It’s your turn!

Join with Ed Asner, and with the Alameda County Labor Council, in protesting the 

Oakland School Board’s censorship of the Urban Dreams web site!

• Ask your local union, labor council or other organization to endorse the resolution by the Alameda County Labor Council.

• Demand the School Board reinstate the Urban Dreams website without any deletions!

• Send your union resolutions or letters of protest to the following;

1. Oakland Board of Education: boe@ousd.k12.ca.us

2. Board President Davd Kakishiba: David.Kakishiba@ousd.k12.ca.us

3. Superintendent Antwan Wilson: Antwan.Wilson@ousd.k12.ca.us

Important: Send a copy of your resolution or email to: 

Bob Mandel/Teachers for Mumia at: communard2@juno.com.

Thank you for your support!

-This message is from the Labor Action Committee To Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Oakland Teachers for Mumia.

 

UPDATE ON THE STRUGGLE FOR DR. MONTEIRO (Sept. 1, 2014)

September 1, 2014

To Donors and Signers of the Call for Monteiro:

You are receiving this because you are a signer or a donor to the struggle for Dr. Anthony Monteiro. We send out a hearty thank you to all, especially to those of you who have contributed financially. All of you played a crucial role in Dr. Monteiro’s struggle and the contributions you made are still having impact.

We have two purposes in writing you now: first, to announce a change in the Monteiro coalition’s way of deploying the funds raised on his behalf through the Indiegogo campaign, in the amount of $1045 (far short of our needed $17,000 for a summer time ad in the Chronicle of Higher Education), and second, to provide you important information on the current state of the struggle for Dr. Monteiro.

This has always been about more than Dr. Monteiro; it is about the health of a vigorous and needed and historic African American Studies program at Temple, and about university relations to gentrifying dynamics in urban communities. Consequently, Dr. Monteiro, student activists, community leaders, and politicians at the highest levels of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania politics are still in vigorous struggle to pressure TU to reinstate Dr. Monteiro. This struggle is far from over, and because of Dr. Monteiro’s organic connection to his community and to Pennsylvania politics, this is a long-term political effort. It will take time to play out. It will certainly continue into the next academic year.

Dr. Monteiro’s contract has now expired, but even as he looks for alternative employment, he and his supporters in Philadelphia have been planning both summer and Fall activities on his behalf.

On Redeploying the Funds

It is clear now that the fundamental need for funding is at the local Philadelphia and Pennsylvania levels. The Chronicle ad would have been nice, but a summer ad does not have the greatest impact. Moreover, we feel that national and world scholars have already weighed in with significant influence with the “Call for Monteiro.” The primary need now is to deploy funds in an aggressive local and state effort on behalf of Dr. Monteiro and the issues of scholarship and social justice he represents.

The bulk of the Indiegogo funds will be re-deployed locally for hiring artists to work up a logo for the Coalition to Reinstate Dr. Monteiro. The company, Reclaim, will also be paid for producing T-shirts for the movement which, again, will highlight Dr. Monteiro’s struggle for reinstatement at Temple but as related to the broad campaign in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania legislature for community justice against gentrification and amid Temple University’s often blatant disregard for Black Philadelphians and their community needs. As a sign of how vibrant the local campaign is, a Philadelphia jazz event sponsored by the Coalition brought in additional funds that community members will use to augment the Indiegogo funds. So know that our funds are being put to first-rate use, as community social movements continue to put legs on the national campaign that we have built for Dr. Monteiro. 

The Monteiro Struggle Today 
at Temple, and in Philadelphia & Pennsylvania

Perhaps the dramatic nature and complexity of the struggle for Dr. Monteiro is best exemplified by remarks offered on the floor of the Pennsylvania legislature by State Representative W. Curtis Thomas.  Rep. Thomas is the Pennsylvania legislator for the Philadelphia District in which lies the majority of the campus of Temple University and for communities strongly affected by Temple University policies. The remarks by Rep. Thomas suggested putting a hold on some funds for Temple University (TU), which the University normally receives, if TU administrators do not respond positively to the following four conditions:

(1)Reinstate Dr. Anthony Monteiro to his post in TU’s African American Studies Department, not only because of his excellence as teacher and scholar, but also as a voucher of good faith commitment to high quality relationships between the North Philadelphia black community and the University.

(2)Reinforce Temple’s commitment to educational opportunities afforded North Philadelphia. These were significantly undermined when Temple seemed to proceed with an illegal purchase of William Penn High School, in order to build at its location its own university stadium and athletic facilities for TU students. (Under pressure from Rep. Curtis and the Monteiro movement, TU has now announced that it will work with the community to establish an educational center for the neighborhood at the former high school site, complete with a new Career Educational Technical Center.)

(3)Redress the increasing problem of a severe “lack of diversity” at Temple University, both in the ranks of its faculty and also in the upper level of its administrators.

(4)Reverse TU’s ongoing neglect of the basic needs of North Philadelphia communities that border the University. Showing good faith, here, would mean admitting more of the graduating honors students from neighboring black Philadelphia high schools and redressing students’ needs in those neighborhoods.

At present, Rep. Thomas and others are working every possible political and community angle on behalf of Dr. Monteiro, together with these broader issues. The funding from the Pennsylvania legislature to TU is not automatic, and Rep. Thomas seems to have support from both Republicans and Democrats to hold up the dispersal of these funds.

Indeed, the power of the purse-strings has been evident, as Rep. Curtis has had personal meetings with the President of Temple University, Neil Theobald, on all these matters, and especially on the firing of Dr. Monteiro.

We are upbeat, and so is Dr. Monteiro. He has reports that TU administrators have had up to 3-hour meetings on his case, and that TU knows that its reputation on these matters is not strong, in the media or in the local urban community. Dr. Monteiro’s case is at the heart of the deep concerns over urban gentrification in the TU area, and has stimulated renewed organizing around whether black folk will be allowed to live in North Philly near to Temple University.

Moreover, since Dr. Molefi Kete Asante’s independently initiated role in the firing of Dr. Monteiro (and we now know that this is the case from the highest level of Temple administrators), the African American Studies Department remains in a state of seeming chaos. Dr. Asante is trying to have it renamed Department of “Africology,”organizing it around his own version of Afrocentrism. Significantly, though, one promising young scholar in the Department just submitted last week – unannounced and just weeks before start-up of classes – her resignation from the Department. Dr. Monteiro’s stabilizing influence is still needed in the Department – now more than ever – as is his commitment to principles of community justice that he combined with rigorous scholarship in the Black radical tradition of W. E. B. Du Bois and Angela Y. Davis.

It is for the purpose of supporting these powerful local and state efforts that we now are suggesting that the funds raised for the Chronicle ad, be released to activist in the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania organizing work

Thank you everyone for your support. We will continue to keep you updated.

Sincerely,

Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor, Religion and Society, Princeton Theological Seminary

Dr. Johanna Fernandez , Dept. of History and Black and Latino/a Studies

Jamila K Wilson, Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

Patrice K. Armstead, Coalition for the Reinstatement of Dr. Anthony Monteiro/Philadelphia

OPEN LETTER TO THE OAKLAND UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT (May 27, 2014)

EMAJ – EDUCATORS FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL
20 Years Educating and Organizing for Abu-Jamal and Social Justice
 website: http://www.emajonline.com

__________________________________________________

To Oakland School Board President David Kakishiba, Acting Superintendent Gary D. Yee, incoming Superintendent Antwan Wilson and the Board of Education

With this letter we register our protest of the decision by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to shut down its Urban Dreams curriculum web site. The decision has every appearance of being a capitulation to elements of a police pressure group, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), whose strong-arm tactics of intimidation were recently projected at the OUSD through reactionary pundits on Fox News. Even though OUSD spokesperson Troy Flint enumerates several reasons for taking down the website, he also admits that the national Fox story is what precipitated its closing.

Closing the curriculum website denies faculty and student access to invaluable curriculum resources by Oakland teachers with social justice themes. In particular, this innovative Urban Dreams curriculum focused on media and educators’ censorship, asking students to consider parallels between the censoring of radical political speeches and writings of the post-1967 Martin Luther King and the censoring of today’s revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Closing the curriculum website denies faculty and student access to invaluable curriculum resources by Oakland teachers with social justice themes.

African American  Integration     Civil Rights Marchers    StateKing’s radical politics were evident in his last years of his growing collaboration with Black Power leaders, his leading of study sessions with SCLC leadership on socialism, his support of the movement against the Vietnam War and his challenge to U.S. militarism, declaring at Riverside Church that the U.S., “my own country,” was “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

Abu-Jamal’s radical politics are expressed today in six books and hundreds of essays in audio and print formats. He produced them over 32 years of imprisonment, 29 of these on death row. He has continuously maintained his innocence against a 1982 death sentence (now, life without parole) for the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia policeman, Daniel Faulkner.

Abu-Jamal has become a skilled and inspiring analyst of a broad array of social justice themes: mass incarceration, police violence, economic exploitation, U.S. imperialism, the death penalty and systemic racism – also gender and sexual injustice. These essays have found their way into venues as diverse as National Public Radio, Yale Law Review, Street News for the homeless, Forbes Magazine and a host of others.

Mumia-Abu-Jamal-2013-webMumia Abu-Jamal, shown at left in a 2013 photo, a college educated professional journalist, has continued to write news and commentary throughout his 30 years of imprisonment – an excellent role model for the disciplined scholarship expected of students.

OUSD teacher Craig Gordon, in a lively and well-crafted educational course design, offered an impressive curriculum encouraging students to compare censorship of King’s and Abu-Jamal’s radical writings. His teaching unit, “Hidden in Plain Sight,” deftly exposes how King’s ideas have been whitewashed and distorted and Abu-Jamal’s subjected to ideological distortion.

Gordon creatively led students to consider questions like the following: Why is this radical King absent from our education and media? How does his censorship compare with the silencing of other radical voices today, like that of Abu-Jamal? This is an invaluable pedagogy.

Predictably, Gordon and the OUSD came under pressure from both the FOP and Fox News.

First came a March 24 article, posted at the website of the Education Action Group Foundation (EAG) entitled, “Police Union Leader: Teachers Who Present a Cop-Killer as Hero are Committing ‘Psychological Child Abuse’.” The EAG is a reactionary educators group that is virulently anti-union, an ideologically right-wing educational arm of the Republican “Tea Party” movement.

The essay’s referenced “police union leader” was Philadelphia FOP Grand Lodge “Political Coordinator” Richard Costello, blustering – against all the evidence and in full ideological tantrum – that the OUSD, along with our organization, Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ), was “committing psychological child abuse.”

Then, appearing on April 10, a Fox News essay took the FOP-Fox News attack to the national level. This essay was entitled “Lesson Has School Kids Comparing Martin Luther King to Cop-Killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.” Fox here used a tactic refined over the years by the FOP, namely, show-casing the grief of Maureen Faulkner, the widow of the police officer whom Abu-Jamal is said to have killed.

She is quoted as declaring that the OUSD curriculum was an “absolute disgrace.” The Fox story adds, without quoting Faulkner, that the OUSD curriculum is “akin to teaching students violence.” The FOP and allied Fox News pundits’ strategy is to replace well-made arguments with a simple emotional appeal to this grieving widow’s declaration of outrage.

There is more operative here than personal grief. The story also shows the FOP and Fox News claiming alliance with Maureen Faulkner in their political hostility to academic freedom. The story holds that any mention of radical or militant people or their ideas should be purged from public schools “using our tax dollars.” The very day this national story broke – in fact, just hours later – the OUSD took down the Urban Dreams site.

We urge the OUSD to reopen the Urban Dreams website. It would find ready use again, as it had before. It would also be a continuing testimony to the courage and excellence of education emanating from Oakland teachers.

We want the OUSD to know just how far the FOP will go in exploiting news outlets for their vendetta against Abu-Jamal.

Consider the FOP’s role in the recent congressional debates about President Obama’s nomination of Debo Adegbile as assistant attorney general for civil rights in the Department of Justice (DOJ). Adegbile had played a minor role as part of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund (LDF), when the LDF won a ruling that declared Abu-Jamal’s death sentence to be unconstitutional.

In a letter to President Obama and through their political and press allies, the FOP presented a distinguished and successful civil rights attorney, Adegbile, as undeserving of a post in the DOJ because he defended a “cop-killer.” This was a direct attack on LDF’s right to defend Abu-Jamal, whose claims of racial bias at his original trial were seen by a federal district court judge in 2001 as so strong that he “certified” Abu-Jamal’s racial bias claim as “appealable.”

By vilifying Adegbile for his connections to the LDF defense of Abu-Jamal, the FOP was attacking LDF’s right to represent a defendant with strong appealable claims.

Note, however, that neither the FOP nor its Fox News allies raised objections when present Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts went through his confirmation hearings, even though Roberts provided pro bono legal defense to John Ferguson, regarded often as Florida’s worst murderer. Ferguson had tricked his way into a woman’s home, shot eight people, then also, according to national news stories, “while under indictment for those crimes, shot two teenagers on their way to church.”

The FOP, again using the same Maureen Faulkner who denounced the OUSD curriculum, also often circulates proven falsehoods. One of the FOP’s most widely disseminated stories is that during his 1982 trial, Abu-Jamal “smiled” at Maureen Faulkner when her husband’s bloody shirt was held up for display as evidence in court.

Investigative reporter Dave Lindorff long ago had confirmed from trial transcripts that this event never happened. Abu-Jamal was not even in the courtroom that day (Lindorff, “Killing Time,” pages 319-20, 356 note 16). The FOP and political allies continue circulating the story as if was true.

The story was used yet again in the recent confirmation debates about the Adegbile appointment. As Lindorff wrote recently, “[Republican] Sen. Pat Toomey … made full use of the false story in a speech on the Senate floor condemning Obama’s nominee Debo Adegbile … even embellishing on it by saying Abu-Jamal had “smirked” at Faulkner, when her original newspaper account had her saying he had ‘smiled.’”

It is important – especially for educators in these times – to stand strong against such crass acts of misrepresentation and vilification. Nearly anyone remotely associated with Abu-Jamal – whether the OUSD, its teacher Craig Gordon, renowned national educators or Nobel Prize winners – can be targeted.

The FOP even maintains a list of those who have spoken out for Abu-Jamal. They are on a “black list” – some feel it a kind of “hit list” – on an FOP page at its website. It is a display worthy only of the ugly McCarthyite legacies of this country. In fact, it may be worse, because it is maintained by a group charged by the state with the use of violent force.

We cannot back down in the face of this intimidation. We urge the OUSD to reopen the Urban Dreams website. It would find ready use again, as it had before. It would also be a continuing testimony to the courage and excellence of education emanating from Oakland teachers.

Looking forward to the Urban Dreams site reopening, we are

Sincerely,

Mark Lewis Taylor and Johanna Fernandez, EMAJ coordinators

Dr. Mark Taylor, mark.taylor@ptsem.edu, who teaches at the Princeton Theological Seminary, Religion and Society, and Professor Johanna Fernandez, johanna.fernandez@baruch.cuny.edu, who teaches in the Department of History and Black and Latino/a Studies at Baruch College, City University of New York are coordinators for Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ), http://www.emajonline.com, which has been educating and organizing for Abu-Jamal and social justice for 20 years.

Educators’ Response to Dr. Asante’s Attacks on Dr. Monteiro

A Response to Dr. Molefi Kete Asante’s Charges against
Dr. Anthony Monteiro

By the Drafters of the Educators’ Call to Reinstate Monteiro

Monteiro and West at May 8 Rally 2014In recent radio and Facebook denunciations, Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, descends to new levels of desperation in his attempt to defend Temple University’s “dismissal” of Dr. Anthony Monteiro after his ten years of distinguished service to its African American Studies Department.

Displaying an utter absence of ethical propriety, Asante publicly attacks Dr. Monteiro, his colleague of 10 years in the Department, with libelous caricatures of Dr. Monteiro as a “charlatan,” a “low-level purveyor of Marxism and anti-African ideas,” and more. Further, Dr. Asante flagrantly demeans distinguished national scholars Dr. Cornel West and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, because they dared support Dr. Monteiro. Of their participation in a public gathering (see NPR coverage and photos at WHYY NewsWorks), Asante writes that they were merely “doing their Leftist duties” and, worse, he writes, “they were duped.” Dr. Asante then proceeds to excoriate white undergraduates involved in recent protests as a “cadre of white leftists,” who seek “to use the Monteiro issue to hijack the African American agenda.”

Dr. Asante’s brazen demonization of student protesters and his deployment of these racially divisive attacks are morally bankrupt and incompatible with his ethical responsibilities as chair of an African American Studies unit at a University. These claims have been effectively countered in a statement by leaders of the Philadelphia Monteiro movement (photo below, campus & communityfor Monteiro).

students_rally_for_monteiro_20140509_1102514185Further, Dr. Asante’s use of a naked and anachronistic anticommunism to justify baseless attacks on Dr. Monteiro’s integrity as a scholar and a teacher pose a dangerous threat to academic integrity and academic freedom. Dr. Asante’s statements against Dr. Monteiro are especially disconcerting because they reveal a deep seated, prejudicial contempt that has been longstanding. With his recent public statement, Dr. Asante inadvertently reveals that he used the power of his office as Department Chair to fire Dr. Monteiro for nothing other than political animus.

Together with previous, well-publicized charges of plagiarism and abuse of authority against him, Dr. Asante’s unethical conduct make him unfit to make decisions about faculty or lead an academic department. His pattern of unethical conduct brings disrespect upon his Department and Temple University.

Dr. Asante goes on to deride the entire national campaign’s “Call for Dr. Monteiro,” and its 250 signatories from across the nation, as having also been duped, and condemns Dr. Monteiro’s campaign as “slavishly selfish, self-indulgent and pathetic.” Will Dr. Asante next move to attack the Call’s headliners by name? These would be Angela Y. Davis, Gary Y. Okihiro, Gerald Horne, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Joy A. James, Joe Feagin, Howard Winant, Chris Hedges, Charles L. Blockson, James H. Cone, Lewis R. Gordon, Vijay Prashad, V. P. Franklin and Farah Jasmine Griffin.

Beyond name-calling, Dr. Asante gives no attention to the careful arguments made in the educators’ Call, which point to this dismissal as being a “retaliatory firing.” These are arguments that have not been seriously engaged by Dr. Asante.

The Call for Dr. Monteiro was publicized after carefully vetting it for accuracy with those who know the situation at Temple University, from both student and faculty perspectives. When drafting the Call, there were others who spoke with us only on condition that they remain anonymous, fearing retaliatory action from the Department Chair or other administrators.

Dr. Asante’s apparent role in the de facto firing of his colleague is especially offensive given that Dr. Monteiro helped support Dr. Asante’s appointment as Chair following a crisis of governance in the Department just last year.

Dr. Asante justifies the firing by repeatedly stating that it was simply time for Monteiro’s one-year contract to end. He downplays the fact that Monteiro’s contract was renewed multiple times over the course of 10 years, signaling the Department’s deep level of trust and respect for his teaching and scholarship over the years.

Dr. Asante also tries to justify the firing by waving away Dr. Monteiro’s status as a Du Bois scholar – even writing, “he is not a Du Boisian scholar.” He rages as if those of us who drafted and signed the Call for Dr. Monteiro have no basis for highlighting Dr. Monteiro’s distinguished record in Du Bois studies. We simply invite him to look at the record. Dr. Monteiro has multiple essays on Du Bois, in peer-reviewed journals, in academic books, and in other venues, too. He has a major manuscript in preparation on Du Bois. He has been the driving force for the annual symposia and lectures held at Temple University on Du Bois, drawing scholars of distinction to the lectures and symposia from Princeton, Drexel, UPENN, Brown and many other schools. His doctoral seminars on Du Bois are regularly attended by students of various fields of study. He was asked by UPENN to bestow upon Du Bois the Emeritus Professorship in Africana Studies and Sociology at UPENN.

Moreover, Dr. Asante seems not to know what it means for a scholar like Dr. Monteiro to work in the legacy of Du Bois. Du Bois wrote and organized against deadly mixes of racism and class repression, as these weigh heavily upon diverse groups (black and white, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Chinese, and more) and especially upon women of color. Contrastingly, the narrow Afrocentric traditions of scholarship which Dr. Asante represents have been less effective in displaying the integral relations between Du Bois’ blend of Pan-African, socialist and women’s concerns. Dr. Monteiro addresses these relations in his teaching and scholarship, advocating for all – in Du Bois’ language, for all the “darker nations” and for any who suffer the “anarchy of empire.”

It is time for Dr. Asante to cease posing as the deserving well-published scholar over and against Dr. Monteiro, whom he describes as the undeserving “elevated adjunct”/”charlatan.” Dr. Asante needs to remember that he, along with many of the tenured and celebrated university professors of this country, has been protected in his position, especially when he was most vulnerable. Even when three separate faculty committees at Temple University found sufficient evidence for a university tribunal to weigh Dr. Asante’s “grave misconduct” of plagiarism and misuse of a female colleague’s work in his publications – it was only a single Temple administrator, President Liacouras, in 1996, who protected him from the dire consequences of such a negative judgment by colleagues (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Nov. 14, 1996).

Dr. Monteiro deserves protection, but for something far better and more exemplary: his reputable and distinguished service for over a decade at Temple. Dr. Monteiro warrants that for which our Call has argued, what distinguished scholars world-wide have affirmed, and what scores of leading scholars recognize – namely, his reinstatement to the Department of African American studies.

Dr. Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College/CUNY, History Department and Black and Latino/a Studies*

Dr. Mark Lewis Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary, Religion & Society Committee, and Theology Department*

*Institutions listed for identification purposes only.

Patrice Armstead Responds to Dr. Asante

Below is a response to Dr. Asante’s statement from coalition member Patrice K. Armstead.

Dr. Asante before you publicly attack a movement and a rally demanding simple justice, I suggest you get your facts straight. I was the lead organizer for the rally held on May 8th at Broad and Cecil B. Moore. I am not a white leftist, but I am an African American woman who believes in Black Liberation. The movement embraces our white leftist supporters because they believe in our struggle and the importance of Black Liberation and the fight for simple justice. As an activist and organizer I marched with Dr. Monteiro, students, and community members on behalf of you gaining chairmanship of the African American Studies Department. You have turned your back on your brother and the Black community. It is so easy to come on Facebook and write a long false statement. I publicly addressed you at William Penn Charter School for the panel discussion on “The Meeting.” I asked why you betrayed your colleague and you did not answer. You cowardly let someone take the microphone from you and answer for you. That was a move of a coward and a man that fears confrontation. I sat in a meeting with you and other community people such as Sacaree Rhodes and Pam Africa and you stated that Dr. Monteiro will always have a job in the department as long as he does not do anything to compromise the department. You also stated that in an email that I still have. You stabbed him in the back and asked Dean Soufas to not renew his contract. You are a liar and a fraud. The Black community despises you and sees you as an enemy.

I want to address the statement you made about Dr. Monteiro not being a DuBosian scholar. We have a National Call signed by 250 scholars and academics that refer to Dr. Monteiro as a DuBosian scholar. I encourage you to take a look at the website: http://www.emajonline.com/call-for-monteiro/. I also encourage you to take a look at this article that was written in the Philadelphia Tribune: http://www.phillytrib.com/…/cornel-west-calls-for…. There was a large crowd of Black community members. I organized the event so I know who was there. Students from your department were there in support of Monteiro’s reinstatement with tenure. The rally on May 8th was a huge success about 200 people was in attendance. The movement to reinstate Monteiro with tenure is a movement that will go down in history and will be talked about in the community and academia when you and I are long gone. Our movement is not just about the reinstatement of Dr. Monteiro our narrative have always included justice for Black North Central Philadelphia. The Black community that surrounds Temple has been victims of severe gentrification and poverty. We are also demanding justice for the poor and working poor in the community that surrounds Temple. Next time you hold and event or community gathering at your institute or Temple consider discussing gentrification and its impact on the Black community. As a professor, I am sure you are familiar with doing research. Next time you want to attack a person or a movement make sure you do your research. Until Monteiro is reinstated with tenure we will continue the fight. I am publicly inviting you to attend any rally/protest that we have.

“North Carolina Burning” by Mumia Abu-Jamal

raleighmarchers.2014They call it “Moral Mondays” and in North Carolina this means a movement of civil disobedience led by Rev. Dr. William Barber a local head of the NAACP.

Why protest? That’s because for the first time since 1870 – yes, that’s right, 1870 – the Republicans have their hands on all the levers of power there: the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature. And they are on a tear to keep it. above photo, thousands marching in Raleigh today, Feb 8, 2014 ]

One of their first efforts was to attack voting rights and similarly redistricting, thus to block voters from the polls and to redraw districts to isolate and weaken those who make it through to vote.

They slashed unemployment benefits to some 170,000 people; so much so, that they no longer qualify for federal unemployment programs – North Carolina, the eighth state to cut such benefits. Social programs have also been hit and that’s just the beginning.

And so demonstrations at the Capital have attracted hundreds of protesters. Nearly 1,000 people have been arrested in Raleigh, proving that we are not as far as we think from the civil rights days.

It is one of the ironies of history that a party built on black suffrage and black freedom has now become one designed and determined to strip blacks from the voting roles. Despite the people in the streets and over 900 arrests national coverage is slight and fleeing. Perhaps that may be because they are so busy covering the 50-year anniversaries featuring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., instead of what is happening now right beneath their noses.

You may not see it, or hear of it, but a movement is blossoming in Raleigh, North Carolina.

It is called “Moral Mondays.” rsz_mumia_innocent_2

From Imprison Nation – this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

© Mumia Abu-Jamal, February 7, 2014  (audio at Prison Radio).

 

MUMIA & MANDELA, by Johanna Fernandez

NE1_close_color_hands

(Professor Fernandez’s post below went viral )

Friends:

Dec. 6, 2013. Today we mourn the death of Nelson Mandela, the fearless, South African freedom fighter who was incarcerated for his affiliation and active involvement in the armed revolutionary wing of the African National Congress. During the 28 years of his incarceration, Mandela defied his captors from his cell by preserving his humanity and compassion in the face of the torture and brutality unleashed against him, and many other political dissidents, by the U.S.-backed, Apartheid South African regime. In the United States, the incarceration of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal and the failed attempt on the part of the state to execute and silence him mirror the trajectory and legacy of Mandela’s imprisonment. From the early 1980s to the present, Mumia’s prison writings have made him a symbol of defiance against the absolute, inhumane, and repressive power of the state. Like the early revolutionary Mandela, Mumia’s voice resounds with clarity, humanism and an unflinching commitment to the struggle for freedom, the world over.

Today, let us honor Nelson Mandela by launching the struggle that will bring home our current-day-Mandela. Like the struggle that freed Mandela, the fight to free Mumia is bound up in the struggle to build a better world and to free all political prisoners in the United States,  the majority of whom belong to historically oppressed minority groups. Like Mandela, these currently imprisoned Puerto Rican Revolutionary Nationalists, African American radicals (mostly former members of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army), and radical Native Americans were incarcerated for their defense of the idea of armed revolutionary struggle, and for their determination to defend, by any means necessary, their people’s right to life and the pursuit of happiness.

Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College (CUNY)
EMAJ Coordinator

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