News Release

Beyond Honoring Mandela: What About U.S. Political Prisoners?

JOHANNA FERNANDEZ, Johanna.Fernandez at baruch.cuny.edu, jfernandez1202 at gmail.com, @JohannaFernand
Fernandez is professor of history at Baruch College of the City University of New York, a former Fulbright Scholar, and one of the coordinators of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home. She is also author of the forthcoming When the World Was Their Stage: A History of the Young Lords Party, 1968-1974.

She said today: “Today we mourn the death of Nelson Mandela, the South African freedom fighter who was incarcerated for his leadership in the armed revolutionary wing of the African National Congress. During the 28 years of his incarceration, Mandela defied his captors from his cell by preserving his humanity and compassion in the face of the brutality unleashed against him, and many other political dissidents, by the U.S.-backed, Apartheid South African regime. Recall that the CIA tipped off the South African government so they were finally able to capture Mandela, who had proven to be so illusive. …

“From the early 1980s to the present, former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal’s prison writings have made him a symbol of defiance against the repressive power of the state. Like the early revolutionary Mandela, Mumia’s voice resounds with clarity, humanism and an unflinching commitment to the struggle for freedom, the world over.” Listen to Abu-Jamal’s just-recorded obituary of Mandela [audio].

“Today marks the 32nd year of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s wrongful incarceration and we are holding events in Philadelphia. Like the struggle that freed Mandela, the fight to free Mumia is bound up in the struggle to build a better world and to free all political prisoners in the United States, the majority of whom belong to historically oppressed minority groups. Like Mandela, these currently imprisoned Puerto Rican Revolutionary Nationalists, African American radicals (mostly former members of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army), and radical Native Americans were incarcerated for their defense of the idea of armed revolutionary struggle, and for their determination to defend, by any means necessary, their people’s right to life and the pursuit of happiness.”