SELL OUT CROWD AT EVENT FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL AT BARNARD COLLEGE/COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY

New York City. April 4, 2010. Over 500 people packed out the Event Oval at the Diana Center at Barnard College campus at Columbia University on Saturday night, April 3. Headliner speaders featured Cornel West of Princeton University’s Religion Department, Vijay Prashad of Trinity College’s International Studeis Department, and Jamal Joseph of the Columbia University.

The three-hour event was attended by many students, and attendees of all ages. The organizers for the event, EMAJ, were supported by other veterans of the movement who also were on hand, Pam Africa, Suzanne Ross, and others. The evening speakers were asked to address the conference theme,  “Live from Death Row: Mumia at the Crossroads in the Age of Obama.”  Essential administrative work was done for EMAJ by Anjeanette M. Allen, and at Columbia by Zoe Willmott.

The conference was co-sponsored by a wide array of other groups from Columbia University: Lucha, Black Students Organization, Muslim Students Association, Intercultural House, Arab Student Association at SIPA, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, African Diaspora Literary Society, and Black and Latino Student Caucus at the School of Public Health.

In speaking to the packed auditorium at Barnard, Cornel West situated Abu-Jamal in a host of fore-runners, a “cloud of witnesses,” a “black tradition,” he said, that has always been about the task of “emancipating democracy.” West emphasized, “this is not just democracy  for blacks or for any few groups, it is for all. It spills over to free the many peoples from the chains upon them.” He reiterated, during a conference call that came in from Mumia himself, that he could feel in Mumia’s struggle that fusion of justice with love, the latter giving us our special power to resist.

“Love, that’s it,” repled Mumia. “After all, what did Che remind us all at his UN speech?” Jamal Joseph, also in front of the conference speaker phone, then recited Chi’s remearks verbatim. “That’s it,” said Mumia, “love as political force for long-distance running in the way of justice.”

Another speaker stirred the crowd with an international perspective on Mumia’s struggle. Vijay Prashad likened Mumia’s voice, often hailed as the “voice of the voiceless” to a “voice in the wound.” The wound of which he spoke was one afflicted by power today and which consigns ever larger groups to the category of “disposable peoples.” Mumia on death row, and in the US mass incarceration system, is rendered as one of those disposable ones. And yet, stressed Prashad, Mumia and those like him refuse to be disposed of. They assert their humanity. “That’s why they inspire us,” Prashad said driving home his point, because we all are at risk of being made disposable.” Prashad could also say, then, “Mumia is Gaza,” “Mumia is the Congo.” He concluded with a two line poem from Akbar Illahabadi: “We were people, with great difficulty we became human.”

Jamal Joseph, in his opening remarks, drew the links between his previous years of Black Panther organizing, and the practice of love. Joseph showed up also with to youth, whose spoken word performance lad bare the agony, the resistance and the hope of the young and their hopes for the future.

EMAJ plans to take this kind of event on the road. Watch for announcements of similar events at another university this Fall.

APR 3, 2010 COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY EMAJ CONFERENCE

EMAJ EDUCATORS FOR MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

15 Years Educating and Organizing for Abu-Jamal and Social Justice

website: http://www.emajonline.org

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

PRESS RELEASE

CONTACTS:  Professor Johanna Fernandez, Baruch College (CUNY),

johanna_fernandez@baruch.cuny.edu, 917 930-0804;

Professor Mark Taylor, Princeton Theological Seminary, mark.taylor@ptsem.edu, 609 638-0806

STUDENTS, TEACHERS & DIVERSE PUBLIC

TAKE UP ANEW THE CASE OF

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

CORNEL WEST, VIJAY PRASHAD, JAMAL JOSEPH –

SPEAKERS TO ANCHOR COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY EVENT

AT THE BARNARD CAMPUS

___________________

“Mumia at the Crossroads in the Age of Obama” –

A Theme to Galvanize Conference Goers

___________________

Princeton and New York City. Released, March 30, 2010. Hundreds of students, teachers and others will gather at the Diana Center of the Barnard College campus of Columbia University, to highlight the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, and to coordinate organizing efforts in their national campaign for Abu-Jamal.

The event begins with workshops between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. and concludes with inspiring plenary lectures, beginning at 7:00 p.m. by Cornel West of Princeton University, Vijay Prashad of Trinity College and a well-known culture critic, and also Jamal Joseph, professor of film in the Arts school at Columbia. Abu-Jamal himself plans to call in to address the audience. Pam Africa of International Concerned Family & Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal will bring greetings to educators from the national and international movement for Mumia.

Abu-Jamal has been on Pennsylvania’s death row since he was judged guilty in a Philadelphia political culture still dominated by the era of Mayor Frank Rizzo of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982, the city’s District Attorney, Ed Rendell (now, Governor of Pennsylvania) secured a conviction and death sentence in a jury trial, which lasted only three weeks, claiming that Mumia had murdered Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner, on December 9, 1981.

The U.S. Supreme Court denied Mumia a hearing for a new trial last year, and in January of 2010 issued a very dangerous ruling that overturned an earlier decision by federal judge William Yohn that vacated the death penalty. Abu-Jamal is now perhaps closer to execution than he has ever been. Even if execution is prevented, he faces the sinister prospect of life in prison for a crime he did not commit, and of which no fair trial has yet to convict him.

Abu-Jamal, an African-American writer and journalist, author of six books and hundreds of columns and articles, has been kept alive through nearly 30 years of appeals due to the vigor of his lawyers, and a public mobilized nationally and internationally in his support. The distinguished human rights organizations, Amnesty International, concluded an independent study of the case, arguing “that justice would best be served by a new trial.”

Abu-Jamal, is also supported in his demands by heads of state from France to South Africa, by Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison, Desmund Tutu, by the European Parliament, by city governments from Detroit to San Francisco to Paris, France, scholars, religious leaders, artists, scientists, the Congressional Black Caucus and other members of U.S. Congress, the NAACP, labor unions, and by countless thousands who cherish democratic and human rights the world over.

“It is not just his notoriety or his publishing accomplishments that makes Abu-Jamal such an extraordinary figure,” says scholar/writer, Tameka Cage of Pittsburgh, who is one of the three coordinators of Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal (EMAJ), which organized the Columbia conference. “It is also his extraordinary humanity, his ability to tap into the universal concerns of so many, and in fact to foreground others’ concerns and not just his own.”

The conference is co-sponsored by a wide array of other groups from Columbia University: Lucha, Black Students Organization, Muslim Students Association and International House. [others?]

Another EMAJ coordinator, Johanna Fernandez of Baruch College, stressed the linkage between Abu-Jamal’s case and the struggles of so many others. “We would like to re-ignite a real conversation about the racialized character of mass and wrongful incarceration in America.  We believe that Mumia’s case stands as a primer for understanding race and the criminal justice system as it relates to broader questions about many dimensions of political power in the US.”

The other EMAJ coordinator, Mark Lewis Taylor of Princeton Theological Seminary, emphasized, “The US media tends either to neglect Mumia altogether or to caricature his supporters as only crazed members of some “looney left.” Taylor counters, “The hundreds of educators who have signed ads in the New York Times and elsewhere, with our organization, put the lie to that caricature. With this conference we not only foreground the urgency of Mumia’s case for him, but show how Mumia matters for us all and must become the concern of a broad, informed and diverse public. We think that with the electorate re-energized as it has been in the so-called ‘age of Obama,’ it’s time for a fresh look at Mumia’s case.”

Vijay Prashad, a historian and prolific author, also one of the keynote speakers for the evening, issued a statement in advance heightening the multiple and polycultural energies that the Mumia movement catalyzes. “Those of us who come from other nations found our America in the heart of the global fights for justice. My reference points include the Shays Rebellion, which took place in my home town of Northampton, and later of people like Sojourner Truth, who spent many of her productive years in my neighboring village of Florence. Daniel Shays, Sojourner Truth and so many others fought for the widest definition of freedom, of liberty, of justice. Not for private gain, but for social community. Mumia is a symbol of what has gone wrong in the republic: incarceration instead of education, punitive justice instead of social justice, war instead of peace. A reversal is on hand. Walk with us.

Cornel West, the renown Princeton University professor and major keynoters at the April 3rd event emphasizes that “Mumia’s case, overshadowed still by a judge whose mockery and flippancy turned Mumia’s trial into a Jim Crow court, also forces us to come to terms with how the failure of our two training grounds for citizenship – education and law – signify the disintegration of American democracy.”

The event is open to the public. The workshops beginning at 1:00 p.m. will treat the following issues: (I) “Mumia 101 – An Introduction to the Case,” (II) “Teaching Mumia in the Classroom,” (III) “The National Civil Rights Campaign,” (IV)“Campus Organizing for Mumia,” (V) “Mumia’s Battle in the Courts,” and (VI) “Media-Building a Viral Campaign for Mumia.” Workshops I, II, and III run from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Workshops IV, V, and VI, from 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm.

The plenary addresses begin at 7:00 p.m. sharp.

ANNOUNCING SPEAKERS FOR APRIL 3RD EMAJ CONFERENCE AT COLUMBIA/BARNARD COLLEGE

* VIJAY PRASHAD * CORNEL WEST *                                * JAMAL JOSEPH *

Main speakers for the upcoming conference at Columbia University on the theme, “LIVE FROM DEATH ROW – MUMIA AT THE CROSSROADS IN THE AGE OF OBAMA.”

ADMISSION IS FREE, BUT YOU NEED TO GET YOUR TICKETS HERE, FOR THESE SPECIAL PLENARY SPEAKERS. THEY SPEAK WITH MUMIA PHONING IN AT 7:00 P.M.

The evening plenary speakers will be speaking in the new Diana Center, in the Oval Event Room, on the Barnard College campus, 3009 Broadway at 117th Street (off the 116th Street on the 1 train). But don’t forget to get your tickets as soon as you arrive.

IF YOU ARE DOING THE WORKSHOPS, YOU NEED TO SIGN UP FOR AFTERNOON WORKSHOPS HERE, AND TAKE PLACE FROM 1:00 TO 5:00 P.M.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR APRIL 3, 2010, SATURDAY.

**FOR ALL NECESSARY INFORMATION AND SIGN-UP GO TO THE CRUCIAL EVENT WEB SITE: MumiaCrossroadsEvent.tumbler.com **

NOTE ON WORKSHOPS. All Workshops are in Kent Hall on the Columbia campus, at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and College Walk (“College Walk” is a major campus walkway between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. See the map that is on the above Event Website).

1 – “Mumia 101 – Introducing Mumia’s Case” – Kent Hall Room 411

2-  “Mumia in the Classroom” – Kent Hall 423

3.  “The Campaign for a Civil Rights Investigation into Mumia’s Case” Kent Hall Room 424

4.  “Campus Organizing for Mumia” Kent Hall Room 411

5.  “Mumia’s Battle in the Courts” – Kent Hall Room 423

6.  “Media-Building a Viral Campaign for Mumia” – Kent Hall Room 424

Again for all details and information on this event, and for Facebook and Twitter connections, go to the MumiaCrossroads event shown above. See you there!

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL & CORNEL WEST – A PHONE DIALOGUE IN PRINCETON

Over 200 people packed out the Labyrinth Bookstore in downtown Princeton on Wednesday, March 3, 2010, to hear Mumia phone in for a brief dialogue with Princeton University Professors Cornel West and Patricia Fernandez-Kelley from the Sociology Department. The event was video recorded by BOOK TV and by DEMOCRACY NOW!. Lively exchange erupted especially between Mumia and Dr. West, as West has been an outspoken advocate for Mumia and of his innocence as far back as his arrest and trial in 1981/1982. Mumia also read aloud a passage from the introduction of his latest book, Jailhouse Lawers. EMAJ coordinators had prepared a new “Fact Sheet and FAQs on Mumia Abu-Jamal.”, EMAJ was present with its banner by labor muralist Mike Alewitz, and coordinators Mark Taylor and Johanna Fernandez addressed the audience about EMAJ’s work and upcoming conference on April 3rd at Columbia University. Present at the Princeton event also were Pam Africa, who also spoke, Linn Washington, Jr., who was introduced and highlighted, and numerous activists in New Jersey prisons and anti-death penalty work.

Kudos out to the Labyrinth Bookstore for hosting this event, and to store owner, Dorothea von Moltke and general manager Virginia Harabin. The bookstore also featured a large window display of the writings of Howard Zinn, the radical historian and author of The People’s History of the United States, along with texts by other well-known progressive historians. Watch for the complete event on BOOK TV and/or DEMOCRACY NOW!

ANALYSIS OF MUMIA’S CURRENT STANDING IN THE COURTS

Dave Lindorff’s essay considers some of the various processes that may be awaiting Mumia. Lindorff writes: “The Supreme Court order sending Abu-Jamal’s case back down to the Third Circuit, right or wrong, hardly means Abu-Jamal’s battle is over, much less lost, depite his already having spent an astonishing 28 years in solitary confinement on PA’s hellish death row.” See Mumia Abu-Jamal Case is Stuck in Hellish Limbo.”

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