It was more than 35 years ago that Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. And how many times since then have we read sentimental opinion pieces about it?
All of us know that the fight waged by the civil rights activists of the 1960s was hurt by the murder of Dr. King.
Of course, the incomplete nature of the civil rights fight and its strong links to the disadvantages of being poor scream for our attention even today. Just last weekend, Illinois released an innocent man from death row. Anthony Porter is an African American who could not afford good legal defense. He was released only as a result of the commitment of concerned citizens.
The case of political activist and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal offers us an excellent opportunity to draw attention to the sort of injustices that plague Porter and many others. The police abuse and racism, as well as the judicial bias in Abu-Jamal’s case, have drawn international attention. Calls for a new trial have been supported by such figures as Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and such governmental bodies as the parliaments of the European Union and Japan.
Unfortunately, those who would like to see Abu-Jamal die have remained intransigent thus far. Fortunately, news of Mumia’s case is spreading quickly even as the urgency of organizing has heightened.
Conscious of this urgency, GW students, faculty and staff have initiated a “Millions for Mumia” Organizing Committee. We aim to bring hundreds of community members to Philadelphia for a mass demonstration that will take place April 24.
In the meantime, we will make ourselves available to the GW community through our office space in Marvin Center 419 and through a variety of educational events.
Foremost among these events will be the regional conference scheduled for Feb. 20 in Washington, D.C., which will include such notables as Ossie Davis, Abu-Jamal’s attorney Leonard Weinglass, movement coordinator Pam Africa, and representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International.
Your efforts to learn more about this case and to help publicize it can constitute the first steps in re-initiating the type of collective action that will spread the word about continuing injustices in a way that no banal opinion piece can.
-The writer is a junior majoring in history.