Celebration of Life marks Mumia’s birthday with struggle

 A plenary held inside the Church of the Advocate.
Photo: Maiga Milbourne

On April 26, hundreds of activists and community members gathered at the historic Church of the Advocate in Philadelphia to celebrate Mumia Abu-Jamal’s 60th birthday. Mumia is a journalist and world-renown political prisoner who was framed for murder and sentenced to death after exposing the racist and corrupt practices of the Philadelphia Police Department.

The event, called the Celebration of Life, honored the determination of the long-standing movement that has saved Mumia's life – forcing the government to commute his sentence in 2011 to life in prison even after his death warrant was signed twice. However, Mumia remain on, as he calls it, “slow death row,” and participants in the event committed to continuing to fight for his freedom.

The Celebration of Life began with a march from the former headquarters of the North Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party, of which Mumia was a member, to the church, which hosted the BPP’s 1970 revolutionary constitutional convention. The demonstration brought together younger activists and veterans of the radical upsurge of the 1960s to learn from the struggles of that era and raise the demand to free Mumia and all political prisoners.

The day’s events included plenaries with prominent local, national and international activists, as well as musical performances by Dead Prez, Jasiri X and many others. Workshops were also held on issues related to Mumia’s case, including gentrification, the school-to-prison pipeline, youth activism and other prominent political prisoners.

A wide range of organizations were present, showing the broad support that exists for Mumia’s freedom. The Celebration of Life demonstrated that supporters of justice and liberation are committed to continuing to fight to overturn this unjust, racist conviction and bring home all the political prisoners held by the U.S. government.

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