I first learned about Mumia Abu Jamal in 1998 when I was a student transferring from Pasadena City College to UCLA. At that time, the movement to free him was gaining steam, particularly on college campuses and I took it on wholeheartedly. I marched in protests in LA, San Francisco and Philly, shouting, “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we gonna free Mumia Abu Jamal.” I did an internship with a nonprofit wherein to communicate the urgency of his situation, we organized a national day of art on September 11th (two years before the Twin Towers fell) entitled “Mumia 911.” Inspired by his writings and those of other former Panthers like Assata, I focused my World Arts & Cultures degree on the links between social justice movements and art.
At that time, his case was an example of how people get railroaded by the state and sentenced to death with unfair trials — especially Black, poor people. It still is. Now, it’s also an example of how the state denies prisoners medicine and medical care.
Originally, Prison Radio asked me to write the script for this PSA–but then they asked me to read it as well! How could I refuse? I needed to communicate how dire the situation is, but I hardly recognize myself with such a serious tone.
Mumia continues to publish and to speak out as a voice of the voiceless. The movement to free him has taken some hits, but we’re still fighting for his life and freedom. Join us.