Stop the censorship! Restore the Urban Dreams website!

Open letter to Oakland School Board members:

“Knowledge” is the work of one of 11,000 California prisoners held in solitary confinement, a form of torture that both Mumia and MLK personally experienced. – Art: Roger “Rab” Moore, G-02296, HDSP SHU Z-123, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127
“Knowledge” is the work of one of 11,000 California prisoners held in solitary confinement, a form of torture that both Mumia and MLK personally experienced. – Art: Roger “Rab” Moore, G-02296, HDSP SHU Z-123, P.O. Box 3030, Susanville CA 96127

Members of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, including (among others) the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), BART workers and AC Transit bus drivers, were appalled to hear that the Oakland Unified School District succumbed to pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the right-wing Fox News by shutting down the educational Urban Dreams website, which includes material on Mumia Abu-Jamal and Martin Luther King Jr.

In effect, academic freedom was pushed to a back seat of the bus. This censorship is wrong. The Urban Dreams website must be restored immediately for all to freely visit and learn.

If not, OUSD administration has joined in with the FOP’s vendetta against Mumia Abu-Jamal – the target of the FOP-Fox News smears was a lesson plan by Oakland teacher Craig Gordon asking students to compare the media’s wall of silence on Martin Luther King’s militant anti-corporate, anti-war campaigning with its wall of silence on Mumia’s writings.

To take that lesson plan down, OUSD took down the entire Urban Dreams website, a website containing many rich and evocative teacher-developed lessons, of which Gordon’s is one. Several of these lesson plans were still in active use by teachers in Oakland and elsewhere.

In effect, academic freedom was pushed to a back seat of the bus. This censorship is wrong. The Urban Dreams website must be restored immediately for all to freely visit and learn.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, a Black journalist called the “voice of the voiceless,” was framed for the murder of a Philadelphia policeman over 30 years ago and sentenced to death. Only recently was this innocent man removed from death row.

Fifteen years ago, in the best tradition of the abolitionists, Oakland teachers initiated a teach-in on the plight of Mumia Abu-Jamal and the vestige of slavery, the death penalty. Indeed, Craig Gordon was one of the organizers of that teach-in.

Following that stellar example in 1999, striking school teachers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, demanded his release from prison. As well, longshore workers shutdown all West Coast ports and led a march of 25,000 strong in San Francisco calling for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Workers in the Bay Area, especially here in Oakland, have a long and proud tradition of defending Black victims of the racist state oppression – from Martin Luther King Jr. to Angela Davis to Huey Newton to Oscar Grant. Oakland teachers have an obligation to teach that history and students have a right to learn from that history.

Oakland teachers have an obligation to teach that history and students have a right to learn from that history.

Stop the censorship! Restore the Urban Dreams website!

Contact Jack Heyman, chair of the Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, at TransportSolidarity@yahoo.com.