Special Message From #MumiaAbuJamal @PrisonRadio via @VickensMoscova
On December 18, 2011, from his solitary cell at SCI Mahanoy, Mumia wrote a message to the men and women with whom he shared death row. We share it with you here: (courtesy of 'Greater Friends' the newsletter of Pennsylvania Prison Society)
TO MY BRETHREN & SISTAS ON THE ’ROW
It has been barely a week since I departed Death Row, yet I cannot help but look back, for many of you are in my heart. I may no longer be on Death Row, but because of you Death Row is still with me. How could that not be so, when I’ve spent more years of my life on Death Row, than in ‘Freedom?’ Or, more time spent on Death Row, than with my family?
I write to tell you all—even those I’ve never met—that I love you, for we have shared something exceedingly rare. I have shared tears and laughter with you, that the world will neither know nor see. I have shared your anguish when some judge shattered your hopes and spit disappointment; or when some politician sought to use you to climb to higher office.
We have seen time and disease take some of our people off the Row. We have seen several choose their own date to die, cheating the hangman via suicide (William “Billy” Tilley, Jose “June” Pagan). But, Brothers and Sisters of the Row, I write not of death, but of life.
If I can walk off, so can you. Keep rumblin’; keep fightin’; keep rockin’. Check out your Mills issue.
But, there is more. Live each day, each hour, as if it is the only time there is. Love fiercely. Learn a new thing. A language. An art. A science. Keep your mind alive. Keep your heart alive. Laugh!
Look at each other not as competitors, but as fellow travelers on the same red road of life. No matter what the world says of you, see the best in each other, and radiate love to each other.
Be your best self. If you are blessed to have family, send your love to them all—no matter what. If you have a spiritual family or faith, practice it fully and deeply, for this links you to something greater than yourself. No matter what, Christian, Muslim, Judaism, Hindu, Krishna Consciousness, Buddhism, or Santería (or Move). This broadens you and deepens you.
I have been blessed to have many of you as my teachers, and my students. Some have been my sons; some have been my brothers. Yet I see all of you as part of my family.
Take heart, for the death penalty itself is dying. States and counties simply can’t afford it, and politicians who run on it are finding fewer and fewer buyers. Juries (especially in places like Philly) are increasingly reluctant to vote for death, even in cases where it appears imminent.
Sisters on the Row, while we have never met, my heart has felt your tears as you are forcibly separated from your children, unable to hold or kiss them. In many ways, as women, your anguish has been the worst, as your loves and sensitivities are deepest. My words to my brothers are yours as well: keep mind alive. Keep hearts alive. Live. Love. Learn. Laugh!
I know you all as few outsiders do. I’ve met artists, musicians, mathematicians, managers, jailhouse lawyers, and stockbrokers. I’ve seen guys who couldn’t draw a straight line, emerge as master painters (Cush, Young Buck); I’ve seen guys come from near illiteracy to become fluent in foreign languages; I’ve met teachers who’ve created works of surpassing beauty and craftsmanship (Big Tony).
You are all far more than others say of you, for the spark of the infinite glows within each of you. You are on Death Row, but what is finest in you is greater than Death Row.
So, care for each other. Not in words, but in the heart. Think good vibes on each other.
Lastly, don’t rat. (If ratting was so cool, they would’ve beat me off the Row).
Keep rumblin’, ‘cause your day is coming.
—Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A. Death Row (1983–2011)
On January 30, 2012, just after joining the General Population at SCI Mahanoy, Mumia Abu-Jamal penned a note to all of us—“My dear friends, brothers and sisters ...”—thanking us for demonstrating solidarity powerful enough to secure his release from “the hole.” After 30 years on death row he can finally for the very first time see the sky and touch another human being. Thirty years.
Call it administrative segregation, disciplinary confinement, security housing, or restricted housing, in the United States today at least 80,000 prisoners are in some form of isolated confinement. Our efforts to get Mumia out of solitary, like our previous efforts to get Mumia off death row, are made within this larger context. They are part of the much larger struggle for justice—a justice that will extend to all prisoners. The next step is freedom.
Prison Radio’s mission is to challenge unjust police and prosecutorial practices which result in mass incarceration, racism, and gender discrimination. We do this by bringing the voices of men, women, and children into the public debate and dialogue on crime and punishment.
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Toward justice and freedom with love and respect,
Mumia's Message to the Movement has been reprinted, and expanded. It now includes Alice Walker’s poem “From Mumia’s Cell” and a Spanish translation by Lori Berenson.
The painting of Mumia above is available as a card from Prison Radio for $2/each, $50/100. To order, visit www.prisonradio.org, call 415-648-4505, or mail to Prison Radio: PO Box 411074, San Francisco, CA 94141.
To bring the film Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal to your town visit www.mumia-themovie.com.
And don't forget to listen to Mumia's on your local community radio station or at www.prisonradio.org
Who do you think is freer – Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at one of the most prestigious universities in the U.S., or Mumia Abu-Jamal, a political prisoner on America's death row? Most of us would say Marc without hesitation. However, in this new book, which is a series of conversations between the two, Mumia identifies himself as “a free black man living in captivity,” while Marc tells Mumia, “I would describe you as being far freer than me.” This is just one example of the refreshingly unexpected insights that their discussions offer, challenging the reader to reevaluate that which is typically taken for granted.
They openly discuss race, hip-hop and Black leadership in the age of Obama. What’s most compelling is how they intentionally let their guards down to address all topics, including love and healing, as personally as possible – something they both find difficult. The subject they disagree most about is Black masculinity, although they agree that patriarchy has got to go.
This read gets you reading. At the end of each chapter, they recommend books that deeply influenced them – over 100 titles – written by an array of revolutionary and poetic authors. Sharing this diverse and extensive resource list speaks to you the kind of peoples’ intellectuals they are, as they want us all empowered and equipped to make the societal change we desperately need and deserve.
Mumia’s birthday - April 24th, 2012 - is gearing up to be an incredible party. Save the date to join Danny Glover, M1 (of Dead Prez) and others to Occupy the Justice Department and demonstrate the strength of our solidarity. What better way to bring in Mumia’s 58th!