Political Prisoners Teach-In: ‘We got out because of the people’

May 14, 2020

These slightly edited remarks were given April 24 at the “U.S. Empire vs. Political Prisoners” webinar teach-in sponsored by Mobilization4Mumia and held in honor of the 66th birthday of political prisoner and revolutionary Mumia Abu-Jamal, incarcerated for 39 years by the U.S. state.

By Janet Africa

On the Move! Happy birthday, Mumia — we love you!

Janine (left) and Janet Africa upon their release in 2019. Credit: Carlos Africa

I just wanted to give people a little story about when we met Mumia. When we were first locked up in 1978, Mumia was one of the first few media people who accurately reported on MOVE, and he was serious about understanding what MOVE was about. And once he heard the teachings of John Africa, he was moved by that, and he internalized them into his own life. He always says, “Long live, John Africa!” because he’s had a lot of information given to him. And he reveres that information and he incorporates it in his own life.

As a journalist, he covered our trial with in-depth coverage on MOVE. And at times that left him at odds with his own employers, but he did not stop; he would go into that courtroom. And he would watch what went on in that courtroom and judge it fairly and put it out in the news, just like it was.

He wouldn’t slant the MOVE side and he wouldn’t slant the court side, so people got to see the absolute position of what was going on in those courtrooms. And, of course, the system didn’t like it because they wanted it slanted the way other media had done to MOVE.

Anyway, Mumia has supported MOVE for a long time, a long time, and we support Mumia and we will continue to support Mumia.

I’ve been a political prisoner for 41 years, in prison, in the bowels of this system, for doing something I didn’t do, the same as Mumia. And I can’t explain in words to people the mistreatment, the debasement, how people are treated in prison, the prisoners.

But when you are a political prisoner, they deliberately do things to hurt and mess you up as bad as they can because they want you to stop. And that’s what they’re doing to Mumia. That’s what they’ve been doing to Mumia.

I want people to understand this. They told us we wasn’t getting out of any jail — and we got out after 41 years. They’re saying Mumia is not getting out of jail. Use the example of MOVE when they say he isn’t getting out.

We got out because of the people, because of the support that people have behind MOVE — and have behind Mumia now. We’re saying, “Don’t stop that pressure!” Don’t stop forcing these people to answer for everything they do.

Because you got to understand the reason they got moving in there was because they feel a lot of pressure from Mumia. They feel like he can move people in a way that they don’t want them to be moved. So they try to quiet him, try to make him sick, try to kill him.

People! Everybody! We have made giant steps. You have made giant steps. But don’t stop, keep continuing the fight where we put pressure on the system. The people, the strategy of John Africa, is what got us released. And this is what we need to get Mumia released. It was a victory for us and we got to continue this victory.

Don’t let it stop. Demand answers when they come up with those silly things they come up with. I’m pushing you to do what’s right. Make them qualify why Mumia is still in prison despite his innocence.

We are joining all of you, who joined to help get us out of prison, to help get Mumia out, and we will not stop. On the Move!