I’m not sure where the connection to want to know more, this intrigue, this time and space that intersects in what seems to be more than just coincidental dates is happening. Maybe I’m an over analyzer of sporadic and random coincidences, because deep down I believe everything happens for a reason so I try to make connections so that I can know the reason. Sometimes reasons for coincidences take so long to reveal themselves that we don’t make the connections. Other times the impact of the coincidences are so profound that the recall of that time is forced to the forefront of our minds with such energy that it leaves you enlightened. Such as the time is this; I am in the beginning stages of fascination with a group of people called Move from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. I’m not sure where this fascination will lead me, I suppose it will lead to moments of profoundness and plethora of emotions that I will have to dig deep to explain to myself. Mainly, I’ve already experienced these things so I will continue without expectations. And maybe it will lead to nowhere, and just simply leave me aware. But for me, Awareness is a desired destination.
My fascination began when I decided to watch a documentary directed by Marc Evans called, “In Prison My Whole Life.” I had seen this documentary numerous times in my Netflix movies feeds, but never took interest to watch it even though it would always grab my attention. Finally one night, after what felt like hours of trying to find a movie to watch, I decided to watch it. The narrative of the film is a British man, William Francome, who is born (December 9, 1981) the same day that Mumia Abul Jamal is arrested for the murder of a Philadelphia Police Officer. Mumia’s journey can be compared to the journey of many black men who have been wrongly accused of committing a crime in the United States of America, especially during a time where the law, without shame, upheld the disregard of Black peoples’ lives. Mumia’s case, however, has been thrust into worldwide view and still has not acquired justice. This documentary is filled with disgusting arrays of injustice to a man who has spent a quarter of century in solitary confinement awaiting execution. I felt so angry, hurt, misguided, abused, so many emotions as I watched the devastation of a man’s life crammed into 90 minutes.
The Civil Rights Era ended, in what seems like what is viewed in the opinions of Americans, the law upholding injustices against Black people. My parent’s experienced segregation, “Whites Only” signs, “For Colored’s” signs. Surely, by the time I arrived in 1980 the heinous way Black people were treated by United States Government had been rectified. Yea, sure there were isolated incidents around the country, but nothing that made national headlines, nothing that still to the present time of 2014 has been so blatantly left wrong. Please don’t believe that I would be so naïve, but that is what our public school history books would have us to learn. So please understand how my entire being was floored, as if I’d lived without gravity my entire life, when I heard about the bombing of 6221 Osage Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA on May 13, 1985, for the very first time in 2014. A bombing carried out by the City of Philadelphia against its’ own citizens, American citizens. This bombing claimed the lives of 6 adults and 5 children, causing a fire that was allowed to continuously burn, destroying 60 surrounding homes of a Black neighborhood. Now, I will never claim to be a Black History historian, but I was at first angry that I had never read about this in a history book in school, and then left disappointed with myself because I have obviously failed to educate myself, properly. Do not be misled, I have and still do read, research, and promote the understanding of being aware of Black history as well as our current situations. I am not an activist by definition, but my spirit relates, perhaps I am. In any case, it was hard to swallow the emotion of never hearing about the Move People. From the little knowledge I have acquired about Move, I do not agree with everything about them, but it takes an empty soul to not be able to feel the grossness of the mistreatment of these people…..They were HUMANS, People, Individuals, men, women, children who desired life and the pursuit of happiness that which has been given as an American Constitutional right, but that which is first and foremost a God-given right.
After watching, “In Prison My Whole Life”, I felt compelled to write Mr. Mumia. I’ve been anxiously awaiting a response before publishing the letter I wrote as a blog post. By now it is 2:30 am on a work night (meaning I have to get up at 7am) and I’m up reading everything I can find on Google about Mumia Abu Jamal. To my surprise I found an article announcing the voting to deny Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s nominee, the position of leading the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; a current event I was totally oblivious to that had a direct connection with Mumia Abu Jamal, the man I just found out existed an hour ago. The direct connection with President Obama’s nominee, Debo Adgebile and Mumia Abu Jamal is that Mr. Adgebile was an attorney on the NAACP Legal Defense Fund during the filing of a 2009 court brief stating that the jury on Mr. Mumia Abu Jamal’s trial was discriminatory, which was found to be true (go figure). Two weeks later the Senate voted 47-52 against the appointment of Mr. Adgebile. This man committed no crime, yet he was denied a prominent position because he was able to prove a portion of the injustice on Mumia Abu Jamal’s case. The filing of that court brief, which was found to be true, resulted in the death penalty being dropped against Mumia. Justice being accomplished 30 years and many attempts later, should have been what awarded Mr. Adgebile the ability to hold the title of chief of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division; instead it led to his demise. Finding justice for a grossly injustice situation was punished. What is moral and just about that? It literally leaves me nauseated.
Weeks go by, as I wait and anticipate receiving a letter from Mumia Abu Jamal. I’ve shared what I found with others, and my emotions die down. Until looking for movies last night, Netflix suggests, “Let the Fire Burn”, a documentary about the 1985 bombing of the home of the Move organization that resulted 11 people dying and 60 homes burning down at the hands of the Philadelphia City Government. This time I was left with the desire to know more about Michael Moses Ward aka Birdie Africa, the only child who survived this catastrophic injustice carried by representatives of the United States Justice System. I was left emotionally drained. While Googling him, I found he recently passed away while vacationing aboard a Carnival Cruise Ship, September 2013. I also found a blog post by Michael Awkward (http://newblackman.blogspot.com/2013/11/the-traumatic-return-of-michael-moses.html ) that allowed my thoughts to somewhat adjust to the way I felt. It’s hard to explain the process of emotions as you watch the complete devastation and destruction that hatred causes people to bestow upon another group of people without any remorse; without blinking an eye. To be able to even WANT to justify such a horrendous act, there were children in that house, those people were made to burn to death!
I emotionally don’t have enough space to continue with this post. But a few random thoughts of coincidences that keeps me drawn to this moment in time that transcends generations. I often think of the domino effect of the events that create the type of atmosphere that some of our Black communities are forced to live through. Wakeup Wednesdays are for those who are still asleep. And yes, forced is the correct description.