LinkUp, People Power Action and HUResist present: A Live Discussion with Mumia Abu-Jamal, Part 2

Transcript of Live Discussion, part 2 with Mumia Abu-Jamal

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Part 1 is available here


Co-facilitated by Caitlin Cocilova, attorney and advocate with People Power Action and Jason Ajike, student organizer with HUResist

Prison recording: This is a call from Pennsylvania's State Correctional Institution Mahanoy, this call is subject to recording and monitoring

Mumia: Hello, hello

Caitlin: Hey Mumia

Audience: Hey Mumia!

Mumia: Hello, on the move

Caitlin: On the move, thank you so much for joining us again today, we have a slightly larger crowd than last time here in DC at the Faith Tabernacle Church and we’re really excited to have you. My name is Caitlin Cocilova representing People Power Action, and I’m an attorney at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and I’m joined by Jason Ajike representing HUResist from Howard University. So we’re going to jump right in today with our first question. Like I mentioned, we’re sitting in a church right now in the capitol hill area of DC, and we’re wondering what role should the Church and other faith institutions play in movement building?

Mumia: Well they can play a pivotal role, and in the history of Black freedom they’ve done so in the middle and the beginning of the third quarter of the 20th century. If this were not so, we would all not recognize the immense contribution and sacrifice of someone named Martin L. King. The Church was his home, and the Church was home to millions of black people in the South, and he used that energy to create a resistance movement, and a freedom movement, and we still see the shimmerings from that bright era in our present era. So, it can play a very powerful role, if - if, the leaders of that institution are willing to resist and confront the forces of reaction and the forces of repression that are also a powerful part of the American story.

Jason: This is Jason from HUResist, a student at Howard can movement elders and young organizers work together to share knowledge, hold each other accountable, and ultimately carry the struggle forward while also acknowledging the generational gap between us.

Mumia: Well, the generation gap is real. When I think about generations, I think about the great Frantz Fanon, who in “The Wretched of the Earth” said that -

Prison recording: This is a call from Pennsylvania's State Correctional Institution Mahanoy, this call is subject to recording and monitoring

Mumia: I repeat, the great Frantz Fanon, who wrote the book “The Wretched of the Earth,” which was considered a handbook of black revolution, he said, “Each generation, must, out of relative obscurity, find its destiny, and fulfill it or betray it. So, generations have a role, right. In organizing of course, it’s necessary that members of movements, and people even from various movements, listen to each other, respect each other, and find a way to love each other, and that energy will protect you from some of the mistakes that many of us in the Black Liberation Movement made - that is, fighting each other without just cause. We did not listen to each other and love each other as, you know, as we should have. We fought each other, and all of us suffered from that. So I would say listen to each other, really hear each other, respect each other, and as part of a similar or the same movement, learn to love each other. Because that energy, is really the engine of all movements.

Caitlin: Thank you for that, this is Caitlin again from People Power Action. How do you maintain your revolutionary spirit and strength to continue the fight in your own case, and what do you say to the many others fighting their cases from within the brutal American prison system?

Mumia: Well, I studied the struggles of those of our ancestors before us. We come from a revolutionary people -

Prison recording: This is a call from Pennsylvania's State Correctional Institution Mahanoy, this call is subject to recording and monitoring

Mumia: There are very few people in the American experience who have a history such as African people, and you know, what we have learned is only a minor part of their great revolutionary struggle. But we remember those people who made our lives possible by resistance - Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, you know, our history is rich. So when we think about what they went through, it makes our lives easier. I recently learned by reading Robin D.G. Kelley, “Hammer and Hoe,” about the role of the Communist Party in organizing black people in Alabama in the 1920s and ‘30s, and they faced horrific repression. But, you know, you had black folks in Alabama with Lenin in one hand, and a bible in the other, struggling for, you know, better wages, unionizing, and you know, better human freedom conditions. I mean when you, when you see the kinds of struggle that people have waged that has been disappeared in formal history, and that have been reborn by historians like Robin D.G. Kelley, it’s a strengthening thing. I mean, it - it really expands your perspective of the possible. So, you know, history. Malcolm used to say, “Of all our studies, history best rewards our research.” I think it’s true.

Jason: This is Jason again from HUResist. Two days ago in prison, Palestinian freedom fighters extended a message of solidarity with the US nationwide prison strike, and included a special revolutionary salute to you for your consistent internationalism and principled struggle. Why is it necessary to build solidarity with oppressed peoples throughout the world, and how do you see internationalism developing today?

Mumia: Because internationalism is the only thing that builds strength. Solidarity is the only thing that builds strength. And I’m reading a book right now, about immigrants, and how they have been demonized and humiliated and segregated throughout American history, and how that was done by the capitalists - the ruling class - to weaken the working class, and to justify paying certain kinds of people less money than their labor really deserved. Now, those people were Chinese, they were Japanese, they were Filipino, they were Mexicans, and of course, the foundation of unrequited and unpaid labor, is Africans in America, you know, who still have not been paid after centuries of free labor. When people get together and unite and work with each other and build movements with each other, you really break the bonds of separation, and you build power - you build social power, because the working class begins to have the ability to create a social, powerful force, instead of being segregated, and humiliated, and divided, as is now happening with the so-called, the “immigrant issue.” It is not remarkable that the candidate that ran for president last, began his campaign by really demonizing, in a really foul way, Mexican immigrants, right? That’s the politics of division. That’s the politics of hatred. That’s the politics of racism, and that’s the politics that cannot prevail if we are to move forward. I only have a minute left my brothers and sisters.

Caitlin: Ok, thank you. What are your thoughts, good and bad, on the role of technology in movement building?

Mumia: Well, let’s look at this kind of, fundamentally. You know, when we were in the movement, in the Black Panther Party, in SNCC, in similar movements, the technology we had were mimeograph machines. We would have loved to have the machines you have. But don’t forget the power of sitting down and talking to someone face-to-face, person-to-person, because that’s the kind of contact, right, that changes minds - or at least expands minds and perspectives, and makes movements resistant and resilient, and then triumphant. I thank you all, I love you all, thank you again, on the move.

Audience: We love you [clapping]

Prison recording: your caller has hung up

Yasmina Mrabet