Since July of 1992 broadcast journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, in collaboration with Prison Radio, has delivered searing and impactful commentaries that challenge the complacency of a prejudicial status quo and probe the consciousness of our society.
We would be hard pressed to identify a journalist more committed to the exposure of racial injustice in American policing practices, or one quicker to champion the resistance to such inequity.
Esteemed scholar Jonathan Kozol affirms “Mumia refuses to allow his spirit to be broken by the forces of injustice; his language glows with an affirming flame.” Written and recorded from within the American prison system it is testimony to Mr. Abu-Jamal’s fortitude and talent as writer, and Ms. Hanrahan’s energy and consistency as producer, that the span of his illustrious career including this submission series has been able to transcend prison walls.
From the Empire’s Death Row, over the course of thirty-three years political prisoner Abu-Jamal has written eight books, including “Writings on the Wall” published in 2015, and recorded more than 2,000 broadcast commentaries.
Abu-Jamal is a writer of considerable talent and impact, a broadcast journalist with a global following, and a human rights activist whose life’s work has been dedicated to identifying, documenting and exposing pernicious persistent patterns of exploitation.
He is a media worker whose life story documented in the acclaimed film “Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary” has fatefully become the embodiment of unjust contradictions he seeks to address.
This selection of essays by Mumia has been submitted to the Dupont Awards at Colombia University: “Black and Blue: Race, Violence and American Policing.” Each of these short essays addresses an aspect of our nation’s most recent violent clashes in which dissonance of inequality is expressed through racist policing and violence.
The skill of the commentator is repeatedly revealed in the careful sophistication of his word choices, his ability to deploy historical references as well as personal experience, and in the professionalism of his delivery – all the more remarkable because these were recorded off of prison phone lines.
Abu-Jamal’s compassionate reporting is all the more poignant with the recognition that his own life story closely parallels the discriminations he reports. Shot, arrested, and beaten until nearly dead; charged and convicted of a horrible crime following a mockery of a trial, Mumia spent 28 years on Death Row until his sentence was overturned in 2011. Sentenced to slow death, life in prison, he knows well of what he writes and reports.
Due to a rule denying journalist access with recording equipment to Pennsylvania inmates, radio engineer Noelle Hanrahan built a signal path which maximizes the potential of recorded Prison phone calls.
Prison regulations and sometimes the caprice of a guard dictate phone calls and whether one gets them or not. Therefore out of necessity this submission had to be recorded as a series over the course of many phone calls and numerous months.
While each commentary stands capably alone, as a whole they give voice to the brutalities associated with racist policing and extrajudicial violence. Despite the enforced structural parameters we believe this contribution is significant – especially when one considers the subject position of the journalist who writes and delivers the commentaries.
What makes this submission significant is precisely this unique vantage point, the multiple fluencies of discourse, his ability to at once be many things: observer, reporter, historian, broadcaster, writer and theorist.
Voices such as Abu-Jamal’s are rarely heard but profoundly relevant. His work furthers the national discourse surrounding police violence and state terror and does so from the unique vantage point of one who has experienced the brunt of brutality first hand. We see this series as furthering public discourse on the subject of prejudicial policing and believe that Mumia Abu-Jamal’s pertinent reporting contributes substantively to the rising wave of movement intent on advancing the creed ‘Black Lives Matter’ beyond elusive aspiration and toward a tangible recalibration of the status quo.
– Submission to Columbia University Dupont Awards
Prison Radio is committed to seeing Mumia Abu-Jamal receive the recognition he deserves. Please forward us any awards you think we should apply for: email@example.com.