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Two messages from Mumia – from a week ago and from 1981

November 9, 2010

No matter how much you know about Mumia, you’re sure to find something new and exciting here – beginning with an introduction that sets the scene, then Mumia’s latest essay, “The dirty game (POLITICS),” an open letter he wrote in 1981 called “The sting of betrayal,” followed by some “Blackground info” and concluding with “Mumia Abu Jamal Radio Teach-In” featuring the voices of M1 of dead prez and Minister of Information JR, Ramona and Pam Africa and more. – ed.

Introduction

Mumia Abu-Jamal
On Tuesday, Nov. 9, an oral hearing in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia will decide whether award-winning journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal will face execution, despite compelling evidence of his innocence, or be given life without parole. Demonstrations and other events in support of Mumia are being held across the U.S. and in other countries. The Global Women’s Strike (GWS), Women of Color in the GWS and Payday Men’s Network, who have worked with Mumia for a new trial, will be attending the rally and hearing in Philadelphia, as well as participating in a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in London, England. We urge you to show your support.

Mumia, as he is known to millions, was wrongly convicted in 1982 of killing a policeman in a trial steeped in racism. He has spent the last 29 years on Pennsylvania’s death row. In 2008, a crucial appeal on the grounds of racism in jury selection was rejected. In January 2010, progress on his case was again blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court which sent a decision on the death penalty back to the lower courts, where his case will be heard this Tuesday. According to his attorneys, Mumia is now “in the greatest danger since his 1981 arrest.”

Mumia’s fight for a new trial has won the support of tens of thousands around the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, Sister Helen Prejean, Danny Glover, Amnesty International and many more. In 2008, over 150 U.K. lawyers wrote highlighting the shocking racism of the case and asking the U.S. courts for redress.

Mumia inspires determined and dedicated support because he is a distinguished and remarkable man. He uses his talents and energy to strengthen struggles for justice all over the world. The fate of many others hangs in the balance.

  • Known as the “Voice of the Voiceless,” Mumia is at the forefront of a growing movement against the death penalty. If Mumia is executed despite compelling evidence of his innocence, this will be a precedent for many thousands to pay with their lives. This will start with the murder by U.S. authorities of the 3,370 people on death row, most of whom are Black and other people of color.
  • Issues in his case, such as racism in jury selection (RJS), are central to thousands of other legal cases. RJS is a crucial aspect of U.S. racism: If you’re Black you can be president, but unless you’re president, racism can still keep you off a jury; and if you’re accused of a crime, racism can impose a jury likely to convict, whatever the evidence. The policeman who was caught on video shooting Oscar Grant in the back was sentenced to just two years in prison.
  • Mumia’s case is a key test of judicial killing. The efforts of police, prosecution and courts to deny him a fair trial and execute him show that this outstanding journalist is being tried for exposing racism, police brutality and corruption and for his opposition to U.S. government policies and practices. To allow the U.S. to dispose of its critics in this way endangers us all.

For these reasons and more, on Nov. 9, thousands of people around the world will be supporting Mumia’s right to be heard and for justice.

Rallies and events in support of Mumia are being held in Oakland, San Francisco, Detroit, Houston, Paris, Bordeaux, Lyon, Marseille, Nice, Rennes, Strasbourg, Toulouse and London.

Global Women’s Strike is an international network of women whose strategy for change is “Invest in Caring not Killing.” Contact GWS in Philadelphia at philly@globalwomenstrike.net or (215) 848-1120, in San Francisco at sf@globalwomenstrike.net or (415) 626-4114 and in Los Angeles at la@globalwomenstrike.net or (323) 276-9833. Women of Color in the Global Women’s Strike can be reached at womenofcolour@globalwomenstrike.net or (323) 276-9833. Contact Payday Men’s Network, which campaigns with those who refuse to kill as part of militaries anywhere and those on death row who refuse to be killed by repressive governments such as the U.S., at payday@paydaynet.org or (215) 848-1120.

The dirty game (POLITICS)

by Mumia Abu-Jamal – written Oct. 31, 2010

A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives tries to run for higher office, the U.S. Senate, wins the primary nomination and, as the election nears, a former president visits to quietly urge him to step aside, so that an Independent could prevail.

Kendrick Meek
I refer to Florida’s Kendrick B. Meek, a Democrat, who was so popular in his district – Florida’s 17th – in 2006 that he ran unopposed.

Today, just four years later, he’s in third place in the senatorial race, after his Republican and Independent opponents.

What did the Democratic Party, as embodied by former President Bill J. Clinton, do for the party’s nominee?

They urged him to drop out to improve the shot of the former Republican, now Independent, candidate, who promised, if elected, to caucus with the Democrats.

If ever there was an election drama that revealed the sheer contempt that Democrats have for their most loyal voting bloc – Blacks – this was the clearest, for the nominee was a Black man running for a seat in one of the whitest clubs in America — the U.S. Senate.

In the last half-century, only four Blacks have served in the Senate: Edward Brooks of Massachusetts, Carol Moseley-Braun and Barack H. Obama of Illinois, and the gubernatorially-appointed Sen. Roland Burris from Illinois.

They have only served one at a time.

The Democrats want to keep the Senate as the most exclusive country club in the nation.

© Copyright 2010 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Read Mumia’s new book, “Jailhouse Lawyers: Prisoners Defending Prisoners v. the U.S.A.,” available from City Lights Publishing, www.citylights.com or (415) 362-8193. Keep updated at www.freemumia.com. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit www.prisonradio.org. For recent interviews with Mumia, visit www.blockreportradio.com. Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light at: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Greene, 175 Progress Dr., Waynesburg PA 15370.

The sting of betrayal

“This Open Letter from Mumia is really moving to me and illustrates how dedicated he was to put out the truth in his reporting and some of what he had to pay for doing so. That same year, he would be shot, beaten, kidnapped and thrown in hell.” – Marpessa Kupendua

This letter was written by Mumia in 1981 to Philly WDAS General Manager Cody Anderson, after Mumia was fired from that radio station allegedly because he no longer fit the “image” of the station.

An Open Letter to WDAS General Manager Cody Anderson by Mumia Abu-Jamal – written in 1981

Several years ago, in late 1978, while working to prepare a newscast on my weekend shift at WDAS News, I turned around to see two men, then-General Manager Bob Klein and you, then-assistant G.M. Cody Anderson, standing in the doorway of the newsroom. I recall clearly that both of you had warm words of praise for me, like “I just want to say I really like the way you do news!” and one added, “You really sound good!” The words were warm and welcoming. I smiled, thanked the both of you and prepared the next hour’s newscast.

Just as Mumia defended the MOVE Organization, MOVE has tirelessly defended Mumia for three decades. Pam Africa of MOVE heads his defense committee, and here, the children of MOVE, the third MOVE generation to support him, speak out at a rally for Mumia on July 4, 2008. – Photo: Joe Piette, Workers World
Several days ago, you, Cody, now general manager, remarked during a phone conversation with me, “I respect you and your work, Mumia, but I believe you have a problem working within the established framework.” Sound familiar, Cody? Soon thereafter you were quoted by a ‘DAS news staffer as saying, “He’s good, but he doesn’t fit the image of the station. It’s not the image we here at ‘DAS want to project.” Is that a true, honest quotation? Image? Are we talking about a radio station or a TV station? And whose image can I project but my very own?

In the past three years, my hair has grown long, in a form some people call “dreadlocks.” Also in that time, I have worked in “white” radio, producing pieces good enough to garner a 1980 Major Armstrong Award (first place for news) along with other staffers at WUHY’s 91 Report. 91 Report whipped KYW for the prize, a coveted one in the broadcast industry. In that time, members of the local Association of Black Journalists elected me president of the group.

Although I worked at a so-called “white” radio station, I produced shows dealing with the depth of the African experience in America, repeated prison interviews with members of the MOVE Organization, a group largely ignored by the so-called Black media in Philadelphia since their Aug. 8, 1978, imprisonment, concise, sensitive coverage of their murder trial, many pieces on the housing problems of both Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, City Council, the Republic of New Afrika, the Yoruba community in the city, the visit of Rastafarian Bob Marley, Nigerian ex-President Nnamdi Azikiwe and countless others – Hugh Masakela, the Pointers etc. What is this image nonsense?

Mumia was a loving father before he was imprisoned and has remained so ever since, keeping in touch with his children in every way he can.
Because a man’s hair grows long, does that hamper his ability to write, report, broadcast, THINK? Why are so-called “dreadlocks” so objectionable at a so-called “BLACK” radio station when it was a non-issue at a white one? Was it objectionable when, for almost 10 years, Georgie Woods wore a conk, a process? Was it objectionable when jocks at ‘DAS began to sport the new fad, California Curls, another process? What about a jock who gets a hair transplant, goes under a surgical knife to “regrow” hair? Any objection to the projection of those images? I didn’t think so. When a Black man stops combing his OWN hair, which grows out of his OWN head, in the form of his fathers, and PROJECTS HIS OWN IMAGE, one as African as the African seed that produced him, ANOTHER “BLACK” MAN OBJECTS! (You know, that’s some crazy shit when you think about it, ain’t it?)

Long have Blacks in Philadelphia waited for a Black-owned and Black-operated radio station. Is that it? Is this the future that Blacks long awaited, dreamed of and prayed for? Blacks are in positions of so-called “power,” but in what conditions are their minds, Cody? Are they still “whiter than snow”? Is this the new day that Blacks in the broadcasting business longed for? What a sad, pitiable day. What pettiness! What niggerism!

I have been offered several jobs in TV, both here in Philadelphia and across the nation, both paying nearly $35,000 a year. Was that enough money for me to shave my head and slip into a three-piece suit? Not even! And my family continues its struggle to survive to make ends meet, like most of our people.

Mumia’s daughter Goldi, a popular rapper, takes the mic at a rally for her dad in Philadelphia on May 17, 2007. – Photo: Minister of Information JR
There is work to be done, Cody, and as this is my home, there is work to be done right here at home. It is just such nonsense as image that keeps us separated and weak. While we fight each other, while silly-ass politicians fight each other, while Muslims fight Baptists, Buddhists oppose Muslims, Democrats fight Republicans, niggers fight niggers, babies are being murdered and buried in shallow graves by the score! Is my image my essence, Cody? Is that shit really important as we, Africans everywhere, struggle for survival?

Is it important to the people who listen to WDAS, at 29th and Dauphin, Germantown and Chelten, or 11th and Kater streets, whether I comb my hair or not or whether I wear a neck-chocker or not? Aren’t they concerned about the world around them: news, new information about our lives? And who can do it better, Cody? When I worked at ‘DAS, I also worked at WUHY, which means I worked seven days a week, two days on the weekend for WDAS and five days a week for WUHY.

For a measly $100 a week, I hustled, worked, time over over-time, newscasts and anything else … FOR WHAT? So News Director Charles Harmon could come up to me, and tell me he needed “someone more flexible”? Have you found it yet? Out of the countless many who have come and gone through that newsroom, has someone more flexible been found? Has someone more committed, more able, been found? It was wrong, then, for Harmon to fire me, a bullshit, empty reason he knew, you knew and I still know is still wrong! But, this time, the wrong will not be borne in silence.

I will not grin and bear it and wait for a better offer. I will not produce work meant for Black minds and Black ears for a white radio station. I will struggle and battle until this one wrong has been righted. As for my image, like all life forms, it will change, for nothing in life stays the same. But I will not go under the blade for a paycheck from you!

I will be judged on my work, my record among my people, my commitment to the rightness of the struggle of the African to find dignity wherever he walks, not on the smallness of others and their lack of sight. It is ironic, is it not, that a Black man should block another Black man from performing works in the interest of Black people? It is a statement of our times, and a statement of a mentality that must be erased if we are ever to survive!

“He came unto his own, and his own received him not …”

Mumia Abu-Jamal, President, Association of Black Journalists

Blackground info

The frame-up of Mumia for the murder of Daniel Faulkner was NOT the first time that this system had attempted to frame him:

As a teenager in 1970, Minister of Information Mumia Abu-Jamal was a journalist writing for the Black Panther Newspaper. – Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer
From the moment Mumia joined the Black Panther Party at the age of 14, he became one of the chief targets of Hoover’s notorious “Counter-Intelligence Program” (COINTELPRO). Over 700 pages of FBI files were obtained after almost three years of fighting for them, which illustrate wide-ranging collusion between the FBI and the Philadelphia Police Department – particularly its Civil Disobedience Unit (CDU) and Intelligence Division “red squads” – extending to at least four other security agencies, including the Naval Investigative Service Office, Military Intelligence, Office of Special Investigation and the Secret Service.

The files prove that years before Mumia was framed in the death of a Philadelphia cop, the feds repeatedly tried to set him up on serious felony charges – including murder – without any basis. This was SOP (standard operating procedure) in the government’s COINTELPRO war on Black militants. The lies range from the absurd – the photo appended to the files is not of Mumia – to the outlandishly sinister.

When the governor of Bermuda was assassinated in 1973, the feds tried to link the killing to Jamal, who had never been anywhere near Bermuda. They also falsely sought to paint him as an “urban guerrilla” associated with the Black Liberation Army, marking him to be assassinated by the cops the way BLA leader Zayd Shakur was.

The files repeatedly noted that Mumia was an effective and articulate spokesman and writer for the Black Panther newspaper, who “made the BPP look good because his approach was very positive.” Indeed, not one among the steady stream of reports to FBI headquarters on Jamal’s Panther activities, which were compiled at the rate of virtually one a week, indicated that he was ever engaged in anything other than public speaking and writing.

Yet despite the FBI’s acknowledgment that Jamal “has not displayed a propensity for violence” and was not once found with a gun throughout this period of intense surveillance, the files regularly labeled him “Armed and Dangerous” – a license for the cops and G-men to shoot first and ask questions later.

“They believe what you write, what you say. And it’s got to stop. And one day, and I hope it’s in my career, that you’re going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do.” – Frank Rizzo, then Mayor of Philadelphia, a statement which is included as part of Mumia’s COINTELPRO files.

“They believe what you write, what you say. And it’s got to stop. And one day, … you’re going to have to be held responsible and accountable for what you do.” – Frank Rizzo, then Mayor of Philadelphia

Mumia Abu Jamal Radio Teach-In

Listen to the radio broadcast at www.ontheblockradio.org.

Mumia Abu Jamal is a prolific writer who writes from behind the bars of SCI Greene Prison in Pennsylvania. He sits in limbo in his jail cell, between life and death and yet his voice pumps out on a regular basis profound commentary on the society on the outside of his bars. On Tuesday, Nov. 9, this man, this writer, this profound commentator on our world will be up against a court system that has for three decades kept him, his pen, his body behind bars, but every now and then, letting out bits and pieces of his voice. This Tuesday, Nov. 9, is a sentencing hearing for Mumia Abu Jamal. It will take place at Philadelphia’s United States Courthouse and during the hearing whether he will be executed or spend the rest of his life behind bars will be decided.

If the millions of people around the world who hear his voice have their say, he’ll be coming home, finally, after years of fighting his incarceration.

Now it’s other folks’ turn to push their voices in battle with Goliaths, like Mumia has done with his for years, and get him free.

This radio teach-in includes the following voices:

  • M1 of Dead Prez interview with Minister of Information JR of POCC Block Report Radio
  • The late Pennsylvania Rep. Dave Richardson in August of 1995
  • Wayne Alexander, nephew of Mumia Abu Jamal
  • Ramona Africa on Mumia and the MOVE Organization
  • A recent interview with Pam Africa

One thought on “Two messages from Mumia – from a week ago and from 1981

  1. Lorenzo

    Being born and raised in Philadelphia Pa. living about two and a half blocks from the Original Black Panther Party for Self Defense House in North Philly, on Columbia Ave., between 29th and 30th street. I vividly remember the Front page of the Philadelphia Daily News Paper having a photo of the Panthers naked against the wall. This definitely was not necessary and was only for the purpose to humiliate those brothers, and to discourage other brothers and sisters from standing UP for what IS right, and for OUR RIGHTS as human beings in any society, especially a society that promotes White Supremacy. Justice is suppose to prevail in a Democracy, even though America is a land of Hypocrisy I believe Mumia Abu Jamal will be ONE of the few that is truly served by JUSTICE. "All for one, and one for All"

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