Mumia Abu Jamal: Unsaid at Selma

by Mumia Abu Jamal

Who can question whether President Barack Obama is a master when it comes to speeches? Such a quality literally put him on the map when he mesmerized a crowd at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Obamas-lead-march-Barack-holding-hands-w-John-Lewis-Amelia-Boynton-Robinson-103-in-wheelchair-both-beaten-Bloody-Sunday-Selma-030715-by-Jacquelyn-Martin-AP-300x200, Mumia Abu Jamal: Unsaid at Selma, News & Views
The Obamas lead a march in Selma on Saturday, March 7, marking the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the president holding the hands of two veterans of the struggle for voting rights, Congressman John Lewis and Amelia Boynton Robinson, 103. Both were severely beaten by state troopers on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. The other wheelchair user is educator Adelaide Sanford, a founder of Elder’s House, a history repository and learning center in Selma. – Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP

He did it again in the Selma, Alabama’s 50th anniversary at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. His central message: No one can doubt things are better since Selma. No one.

His speech, delivered with quiet passion, was a master work. And yet … and yet.

Selma has become sacred in civil rights history, not because of what happened there, but because of what happened thereafter. Public outrage fueled the passage of the Voter Rights Act, the same law recently trimmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Selma is a vivid example of an evil that still lives with us – that of police immunity for their violence. At Selma, Alabama, state troopers and so-called posse men beat people unconscious. They shattered skulls, broke ribs, knocked out teeth and broke bones.

Guess how many of them went to jail? None.

Just four years after Selma, Chicago cops broke into the apartment of Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and killed him in his sleep. They also killed Captain Mark Clark.

John-Lewis-beaten-Edmund-Pettus-Bridge-Selma-Alabama-030765-300x187, Mumia Abu Jamal: Unsaid at Selma, News & Views
Alabama State Troopers beat John Lewis, then a young SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) leader, now a longtime member of Congress, on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. Because of the steep pitch of the bridge, the 600 marchers, protesting the murder by a state trooper of Jimmy Lee Jackson, couldn’t see the attack awaiting them on the other side. Troopers beat them with clubs and trampled them with horses.

Guess how many cops went to jail? Zero.

Zip to our present and the Mike Brown case: no criminal trial, state or federal. “Too hard,” say federal prosecutors.

On May 13, 1985, cops dropped bombs from a helicopter and shot and burned 11 men, women and children to death and also destroyed several city blocks.

In that case, 20 years after Selma, how many cops went to jail? You know: none.

Obama could’ve addressed police immunity, but that would’ve shattered his “we’re all better” speech.

What radicalized and motivated Ferguson was a long train of police impunity and immunity after violence against the community. They had seen it too many times.

So Selma is closer than we think. It continues to trouble us today.

So Selma is closer than we think. It continues to trouble us today.

© Copyright 2015 Mumia Abu-Jamal. Keep updated at His new book is “Writing on the Wall,” edited by Joanna Hernandez, to be released April 21. For Mumia’s commentaries, visit Encourage the media to publish and broadcast Mumia’s commentaries and interviews. Send our brotha some love and light: Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335, SCI-Mahanoy, 301 Morea Road, Frackville, PA 17932.