Mumia Abu-Jamal is a former member of the Black Panther Party, current MOVE supporter, internationally renowned revolutionary journalist, husband, father, and grandfather on death row in Pennsylvania. Mumia is on death row for the December 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer. Mumia was arrested and beaten severely on the scene; tried and convicted in absentia as he was unlawfully denied his right to self-representation (and subsequently removed from the courtroom); and, sentenced to death in 1982.
For the last 42 years, Mumia has used his journalistic skills and political education—first realized and utilized as a founding member of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1969—to expose the corrupt government in Philadelphia, its police and its police state, and shed light on the complicity of the Pennsylvania judicial system in unlawfully denying law-abiding citizens their rights under the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.
Mumia is commonly referred to as “the voice of the voiceless” because he understands the purpose of journalism. He understands that he has a responsibility to tell the truth and expose corruption and injustice to the people. As early as 1969, when he was just 14 years old, Mumia understood that everyday people could not be expected to act on this corruption without the facts. Therefore, Mumia Abu-Jamal not only uniquely airs this government's "dirty laundry," but uncovers the facts and makes them known in a manner that all people can understand.
Even from death row, Mumia continues to speak out in defense of people who have no one else to speak for them—from the MOVE Organization (targeted by the City of Philadelphia since the 1970s), to the stories of others condemned to death, to the victories of men and women in this nation’s prison system freeing themselves despite being devalued as “jailhouse lawyers.”
The real reason Mumia Abu-Jamal is on death row is because of his political beliefs and affiliations and the fact that his life was, and continues to be, a testimony to his political beliefs. Writing from his solitary confinement cell his essays have reached a worldwide audience. His books "Live From Death Row", "Death Blossoms", "All Things Censored", “Faith of Our Fathers”, “We Want Freedom”, and the recently released “Jailhouse Lawyers” have sold hundreds of thousands of copies and have been translated into 9 languages.
Mumia's supporters are currently petitioning the US Department of Justice to investigate his case, and the 28-year state-sponsored campaign to silence him.
Mumia’s weekly commentaries from death row are made possible by the work of Prison Radio. Prison Radio’s mission is to challenge mass incarceration and racism by airing the voices of men and women in prison by bringing their voices into the public dialogue on crime and punishment.
Their educational materials serve as a catalyst for public activism. Prison Radio’s productions illustrate the perspectives and the intrinsic human worth of the more than 7.1 million people under correctional control in the US.
Prison radio hopes its listeners question the costs to society of mass incarceration and the increasing use of the death penalty. They believe prisoners voices and stories help shift public opinion toward recognizing that prisoners are people too; help spur public motivation to examine the institutional imbalances that create crime and poverty in the first place; and, expose the prison industrial complex as an economic system which benefits from wasting lives and destroying communities.
Prison Radio is a project of The Redwood Justice Fund.