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It was then literally an 8½-by-11 mimeographed paper you could find in barbershops and local dives in North Philly.
collects more than 100 unpublished Mumia essays, many written in solitary confinement on death row.
Filled with the author’s insight, revolutionary perspective and hope, the subjects of these essays range from Rosa Parks to Edward Snowden, from the Trail of Tears to Ferguson. Johanna Fernández first heard of Mumia Abu-Jamal – the Philadelphia journalist whose sonorous commentaries from death row had made him world-famous – as an undergraduate at a protest in the early 1990s.
I asked Fernández about the book and their work together: Susie Day for Truthout: What was it like the first time you visited Mumia? Like, what the hell am going to tell Mumia Abu-Jamal – on death row?
But before long I was visiting him and about 10 other men on death row at SCI Greene.
One he kept; two he sent out to women who were the telegraphers of his words from death row.
Some of these pieces were published by a local newspaper, The Scoop USA, which is a local circular.I don’t believe in martyrdom.” Then the phone cut us off. I met Mumia, and he’s this ordinary guy who has no ego – I mean everybody has an ego – but he’s cool and approachable, and he goofs around about a million things. The FOP uses Mumia’s case to advance its right-wing agenda at every turn.Yes, I often sense that Mumia’s supporters feel required to objectify him as an exemplar of “the struggle.” We forget that, for all Mumia’s accomplishments and courage, he’s also one more person among over 2 million others in US prisons. From Marylin Zuniga, the third-grade teacher in New Jersey, who was fired for mailing her students’ get-well letters to Mumia, to the takedown of Debo Adegbile, who was Obama’s nominee to lead the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the FOP is a powerful and insidious organization.So began a friendship and collaboration destined to last well beyond the publication of , a new collection of commentaries by Mumia Abu-Jamal, which Fernández edited.Fernández now teaches history at New York’s Baruch College, and Mumia’s death sentence has been commuted to life without parole – though he’s facing serious illness in prison.They helped me figure out how to have Mumia call into the classroom. But I do think Mumia’s case is important because he’s the target of the state.He talked to the students and the students talked to him – it was transformative. The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has identified Mumia as the world’s most infamous “cop-killer,” and they go after him rabidly.That’s important for this new generation of young people coming to political consciousness.I also wanted to include “10 Reasons Why Mumia Abu-Jamal Should Be Freed.” That’s what’s different about this collection; it addresses the case.That was where we did the first “Live From Death Row” conversation in the classroom with Mumia.My Carnegie Mellon students are big nerds and tech geeks. Because I think seeing people as icons distorts your own self-image …