My sophomore summer back home from college, I participated in a “Free Mumia” march.
Mumia Abu-Jamal was a radio host and former Black Panther.
He was convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to death in 1982. On June 1, 1995 Pennsylvania’s new governor Tom Ridge signed Abu-Jamal’s death warrant.
Around this time I was in a local Black bookstore and the owner gave me a flyer advertising the march. I recognized the name because a friend of mine had a copy of Abu-Jamal’s book Live from Death Row. But I knew nothing else about his case and had no opinion on his guilt or innocence.
I guess the bookstore owner sensed my ignorance and proclaimed Mumia’s innocence with an intensity that moved me to march. Then he offered to sell me Live from Death Row at a discounted price. I wasn’t buying it.