The impact of Mumia on me: Reflections on Mumia Abu-Jamal

by Sharron Snyder

Have you ever seen yourself in someone else? Well, I see myself in Mumia Abu Jamal. Mumia and I have so much in common. We come from the same neighborhood and we both fight for social justice.

Mumia is glowing here, on Feb. 6, 2012, shortly after he was released from 30 years of solitary confinement on death row to “general population,” or the mainline. Recent photos show how terribly sick he is, due to gross medical neglect and abuse by the prison.
Mumia is glowing here, on Feb. 6, 2012, shortly after he was released from 30 years of solitary confinement on death row to “general population,” or the mainline. Recent photos show how terribly sick he is, due to gross medical neglect and abuse by the prison.

When he was young, Mumia walked through the same hallways I walk through today five days a week at Benjamin Franklin High School. Mumia went through the same struggles that I face today as a high school student.

I want to leave a positive impact on people like Mumia does. I want the whole world to know who I am and what I fight for.

Mumia Abu Jamal was born in North Philadelphia in a housing project in 1954. I was surprised to find out that Mumia went to Benjamin Franklin High School.

When he was 15, he joined the Philadelphia chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. He later became a journalist who provided important coverage on the MOVE bombings in West Philadelphia.

On Dec. 9, 1981, Mumia was driving in Center City Philadelphia when he was shot and beaten by the police. He was charged with the murder of Police Officer Daniel Faulkner. Despite a lack of evidence, Mumia was sentenced to death on July 3, 1982.

For the next 30 years, Mumia sat on death row in torturous solitary confinement. But he did not stay silent. He continued to speak out, publishing seven books and recording reports for “Live From Death Row” on Prison Radio. Mumia inspires people to get justice for themselves. In 2011 Mumia was taken off death row and continues to fight for his freedom.

Mumia Abu Jamal is a strong person that everyone should know about, especially at Ben Franklin High School. Mumia walked through the halls of my school, but no students know about Mumia.

I believe that Mumia should be taught in all Philadelphia high schools because he is just as important as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. The school district of Philadelphia should have Mumia in the curriculum.

Mumia walked through the halls of my school, but no students know about Mumia. I believe that Mumia should be taught in all Philadelphia high schools because he is just as important as Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. The school district of Philadelphia should have Mumia in the curriculum.

A lot of students from Philly can relate to Mumia in many ways: He comes from Philly, he lived in housing projects and he went to a neighborhood school. Mumia can change what people think about our society.

Philadelphia Student Union members attend a march and rally to celebrate Mumia’s 60th birthday and call for the freeing of all political prisoners.
Philadelphia Student Union members attend a march and rally to celebrate Mumia’s 60th birthday and call for the freeing of all political prisoners.

Mumia inspires me to keep fighting. Even if we it takes a long time to win, we are being heard and that is important. I will never give up on fighting for a better education in public schools. Now that I’m a senior in high school, I fight even harder because I want better for the students who are still in school.

Mumia inspires me to keep fighting for my rights. I want to leave an impact on young people on why they are the most important in the education fight. I want to be a part of a movement of people coming together to fight for what they believe to make Philly better.

Ever since I became involved with Philadelphia Student Union, I have learned to never give up fighting because change is going to come. I have learned even if we lose, we are still winning because we are letting our voices be heard. We are showing that you can’t just make decisions without hearing the concerns of the people who are the most affected. So that’s why I keep fighting, so that I can show that I’m not afraid to let my voice be heard.

Mumia inspires me to keep fighting for my rights. I have learned even if we lose, we are still winning because we are letting our voices be heard. We are showing that you can’t just make decisions without hearing the concerns of the people who are the most affected.

Mumia has never gave up fighting even while he is in prison today. He is still organizing and letting his voice be heard.

High school senior and Philadelphia Student Union activist Sharron Snyder speaks in Harrisburg at a rally organized by Decarcerate PA. – Photo: Paul Gargagliano
High school senior and Philadelphia Student Union activist Sharron Snyder speaks in Harrisburg at a rally organized by Decarcerate PA. – Photo: Paul Gargagliano

I will never stop fighting for public education because it is important to have public schools. I will continue to go after Gov. Corbett, because we need him to put money into education and not into prisons.

All states should have a fair funding formula because all students should have a fairly funded school. The school-to-prison pipeline must end right now!

Gov. Corbett must think that all Black and Latino young people are going to fail. Well, I want him to know that we are not going to fail. We plan on succeeding in life, going to college, getting a good job and living a happy life.

I will continue to keep organizing even after I become an alumnus of the Philadelphia Student Union and go to college. I want to keep fighting until we get all schools funded in Philly.

People all over the world are fighting to get Mumia out of jail. There is a Free Mumia Campaign that is happening and they are a group of people informing the world on Mumia and why he is a good person. They are also informing people on other political prisoners that are incarcerated.

The Mumia campaign’s goal is to bring Mumia home but also to end mass political imprisonment all over the United States. The Mumia campaign is raising awareness around the country, from Chicago and New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Sharron’s essay was featured in the Spring-Summer 2014 edition of the Philadelphia Student Union student-written newsletter, The Union Rep.