Against all odds and in spite of the US government's attempt to assassinate him by execution on Pennsylvania's Death Row, Mumia has not only survived; he has also continued to work as a credible force for the defense of Blacks and for revolution in the United States. He conducts research, reads voraciously, writes books and essays and delivers his radio broadcastsfrom prison to this day. He has been imprisoned every day for 32 years, 30 of them in solitary confinement since he was shot by police in 1981, convicted on trumped up charges and sentenced to death 1982. His penalty of death by execution was eventually lifted and changed to life without parole. In January, 2012 Mumia was released into the general population of the SCI Mahanoy prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania.
Abu-Jamal was transferred in January to the general prison population after nearly 30 years in solitary confinement on death row and was permitted physical contact with his wife, children and other visitors for the first time in three decades. He had been sentenced to death in 1982 for the Dec. 9, 1981, killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. His sentence was recently amended to life without parole. The misconduct of the judge, flagrant irregularities in his trial and tainted evidence have been criticized by numerous human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.
The breadth of his reading, which along with his writing and 3,000 radio broadcasts has kept his mind and soul intact, is staggering. His own books are banned in the prison. In conversation he swings easily from detailed discussions of the Opium Wars between 1839 and 1860 to the Black Panthers to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the series of legislative betrayals of the poor and people of color by Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
Hedges quotes Mumia from the interview:
“The brutality of the empire was exposed under George W. Bush. The empire desperately needed a new face, a black face, to seduce the public. This is the role of Barack Obama. He is the black face of empire. He was pitched to us during the most recent presidential campaign by Bill Clinton, the same Clinton who gave us NAFTA in 1994 and abolished good-paying manufacturing jobs for millions of workers. The same Clinton who locked us up. Clinton and Obama represent the politics of betrayal at the heart of the corporatist machinery. And they have fooled a lot of people, especially black people. During slavery, and even post-Reconstruction, there were always a few black people who served the system. The role of these black servants to white power was to teach passivity in the face of repression. This is why Obama is president. Nothing has changed.”
SV: When you wake up in a country that you realize is run by mass murderers, economic rapists and general run-of-the-mill racists and misogynist psychopaths, you start looking for some sanity. And for me the sanity came from a dark, dank hole on death row in the state of Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections and that was Mumia Abu-Jamal. We've made the unthinkable normal in this society and I think Mumia reminds us of that all the time.
JT: What was it like visiting Mumia?
SV: It was pretty intense. They have him caged in a Plexiglas kind of a hermetically sealed room and I'm in a hermetically sealed room. There's sort of an opening on both side of the Plexiglas where our voices could go through.
It was an incredible meeting because in the back of your mind you expect him to be angry and bitter. And he's just, he has transcended that place. He puts his visitors at ease and he is very gregarious and very much himself. You get the sense that he also works incredibly hard in prison as a writer. He has a very specific regimen when he writes. He told me there's certain days he takes off and he'll exercise or read or do other things. And then there's days and hours that he absolutely has to write.
It's very much like a factory existence. I think that's one of the ways he stays sane is the sanity is in the writing. The same sanity I found in his writing I think he ends up giving to himself with his research and his writing.
Our visits were incredibly long – each time for like six, seven hours. No food, no water, we just rapped. And a lot of times it wasn't about political things, it was about goofy things and.. He's never been on a computer so he's very, very interested in what's available out there and how, what you can find online. Because when he went into prison, in 1981, it was typewriters and long nights in the library.
Mumia is one of our great living heroes and it will always be so. He has galvanized people in the US and around the world against war, racism, neo-colonialism and imperialism. In our many antiwar protests in the United States that were reignited when the US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, crowds of protestors, thousands strong often fell silent to listen to his recorded messages to us. Mumia's recorded talks from prison to protestors in the street and the rest of the world continue today. We have had his photo on the slideshow of living revolutonary heroes on the front page of Axis of Logic for years. We are pleased and excited to see this new film documentary that has now been released in theaters across the United States on his life and work. It opened in New York on February 1, 2013 and the dates and places for more showings are listed below.
A number of earlier video documentaries have been produced on Mumia's life and work. We include one of them "From Death Row" for a taste of what's to come in the new release, "Long Distance Revolutionary: A Journey with Mumia Abu-Jamal." This one was produced by thePartisan Defense Committeein 2006 and it appears in 3 parts, about 9 minutes each. This older film shows the government's political motive to eliminate Mumia whose leadership in the Black Panther Party was becoming a increasing threat to the state. He never had a criminal history. It covers what has been forgotten about Mumia and the state's plans & actions against him. It includes a reveting account of the state's savage attack on the members of the MOVE Commune in 1978 and bombing of their commune on May 13, 1985 which Mumia covered and supported as a leading black journalist.