Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Report Back from Delegation to France

A delegation of Mumia supporters recently traveled to France on the anniversary of the naming of "Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal" (Mumia Street) in Saint-Denis. On the delegation was Pam Africa, Linn Washington, Harold Wilson, members of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), the Harlem Campaign to Name a Street in Honor of Mumia, and many others.

Sundiata Sadiq of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC) offers the following report-back:

The delegation that went to St. Denis was received enthusiastically by their reception committee at the airport. The next day we were whisked to a park just around the corner from Rue Mumia Abu Jamal. Our hosts were surprised by the controversy caused back in the States by this tree-lined street about 200 yards long with its spotless gardens and new apartments for workers. Lynn Washington, the well-known journalist, commented on this, as did Tigre Hill, who was documenting things for his upcoming movie on Mumia's case.

Dr. Suzanne Ross and I spoke for the Free Mumia Coalition and Lynn Washington summed up with a short and brilliant speech about justice for Mumia. I am one that believes in conspiracies against the movement, and when Pam and Ramona Africa and Harold Wilson, who was exonerated from Death Row at SCI Green, informed us that their clothes had not arrived with them, I said, "Huh." They felt it was because they had a layover and blamed themselves. The clothes did not arrive until it was time for them to leave France. It was reported that the clothes were at the airport all the time.

Tigre Hill was busy asking questions for his documentary and it ws a stroke of genius that we had our own people documenting events, including myself. I captured a woman's conversation who had just moved into a new apartment on Rue Mumia Abu Jamal. She noted that, as an educated woman, she did not know who the street was named after so she did the research and felt honored to be living on such a beautiful street.

I am sure many folk that live on that street (White, Arab, Afrikan) may not have investigated who the street was named after. Tigre Hill failed to capture the reception we received at a local political hall and in particular the ovation that Harold Wilson got. Folk were emotional that this man who was framed by the Philadelphia law enforcement officials survived 17 years on death row and was now in a place being showered with love and respect. That night was a very emotional scene that was captured by our folk on video. It was interesting to hear Lynn Washington mention the same appeals that helped Harold Wilson get off death row to freedom are included in Mumia's appeal hearing.

Suzanne Ross and I were chosen to go to Marseilles to represent the comrades who were scheduled to go but somehow lost tickets prevented three other folk from going. We left Paris for a three hour train ride to Marseilles, where we were greeted by the Mumia supporters. It was a beautiful sight to walk from the train station which is set on a very high hill overlooking Marseilles. As we walked through the streets to our host's house there were Mumia signes all over announcing a meeting to discuss the case at the local book store. We were told we were competing with the Sarkozy debate on TV and a Marseilles soccer game. While walking on the street we heard someone singing the soccer team's song. To the surprise of our hosts the book store was standing room only with about eighty people at its max. Suzanne gave the update and I gave the history of repression against the Black liberation movement in the States and how that tied in the case of Mumia.

The next day we went to the area of the American Consulate in Marseilles and symbolically named the street for Mumia. It is interesting for our own history that it was the Marseilles supporters of Mumia that started the street naming campaign in France. This caught on with the folk in St. Denis and they were successful in their campaign because the city government was not as conservative as the government in Marseilles.

The folk in Marseilles were thrilled to see us because they rarely go to Paris or St. Denis and the folk up north rarely come to Marseilles. They asked us if we would come back.

Of course we replied with a big Yes!! Who wouldn't? We lived in a house with folk who were fired up, possessed militant history and of course, last but not least, we lived with a real chef, who cooked every day for us and served the greatest wine in the world.

We also had a spirited May Day march and attended the Tulip Festival in St. Denis. We had a Mumia table, sold t-shirts and spoke to the crowd and folk danced in the pool with Mumia's banner.

-- Sundiata Sadiq of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC)

No comments: