November 8, 2014
I am dismayed to learn that the Oakland School Board has dismantled a website of Social Justice lesson plans because the police objected to it. The Board has a duty to defend students’ right to learn against police interference. I am asking the Oakland School District to repost the Urban Dreams website.
The police attack on Urban Dreams is part of a long campaign to injure and defame political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, a brilliant journalist and author who is innocent of all charges against him. In October the police obtained a state gag law in Pennsylvania specifically intended to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal. One lesson on the Urban Dreams website in Oakland asked students to compare media suppression of Mumia’s writings with suppression of the radical thoughts of Martin Luther King, and the police call for censorship was meant to shut out the words of both these defenders of freedom.
I hope that the educators of the Oakland School Board will defend free speech and academic freedom by restoring the Urban Dreams website.
CC: Antwan Wilson, Superintendent
David Kakishiba, School Board President
Oakland Teachers for Mumia
San Francisco Chronicle
October 7th, 2014 — World renowned revolutionary journalist and author Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent political prisoner known as the “voice of the voiceless,” was heard loud and clear Sunday at Goddard College, his alma mater. Though confined in a Pennsylvania state prison for life without parole for a crime he didn’t commit, Mumia’s recorded commencement address was heard because Goddard College students, having invited him to speak, defied the demands of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and right-wing politicians and media that his address be cancelled and he be silenced. Goddard’s Interim President, Robert Kenny backed up the students.
Mumia’s thought-provoking address was deeply moving, philosophical and generously considerate of the students he was addressing, as he urged them to work for progressive change. It was met with a standing ovation. As Noel Hanrahan, of Prison Radio, the organization that records and makes available Mumia’s commentaries, said in a report from Goddard:
Dear Fellow Goddard-ites, Students, Graduates, Parents, Professors:
I thank you for your kind invitation to join you in voice today. I’ve been away from Goddard College perhaps longer than most of you have been alive.
I last walked on campus during the late 70’s. But although it was undoubtedly quite a long time ago, it still sits in memory, and sometimes even visits in dreams of the funky atmosphere that suffused the campus like a cloud of exhaled marijuana smoke. What really moved me however, was the green life, the abundance of grass, trees standing like ancient sentinels. The majestic mountains of Vermont which possessed a beauty that was, to a guy from the city, simply breathtaking. I remember with crystal clarity walking through woods back to our dorms, Third World Studies, and feeling pure rapture in the presence of those trees. How many centuries had those trees stood on this earth? My mind looked back to Indians who must’ve trod through these very same woods; my steps touching the ground that once crunched under their moccasined feet. Not only have these surviving remnants of their once great numbers been vanished from the land of their fathers, but the reverence with which they held these lands, their collective embrace of Mother Earth, has been vanished as well.
On Monday, July 14th, the Alameda Labor Council passed the following resolution in response to the banning of “Urban Dreams” by the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD).
The “Urban Dreams” website includes course material about Mumia Abu-Jamal which was used in the teach-in for Mumia in Oakland in 1999, comparing Mumia to Martin Luther King, Jr. Because of this, the Fraternal Order of Police attacked the website last April on Fox News, and OUSD administrators immediately and unilaterally took the website down.
This public intimidation campaign comes right after the FOP blocked Debo Adegbele from serving as the Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice. Adegbele was involved in defending Mumia while working at the NAACP Legal Defense and Education fund. The FOP whipped up Democratic and Republican support to block his nomination. The FOP believes that, as an outspoken critic of the corruption and racism of the American legal system and both parties of American capitalism, Mumia must be silenced. In additional to legal and media pressure, they have in the past also utilized threats and actual physical violence against Mumia and his supporters.
We demand that the Urban Dreams website be reinstated on OUSD’s website.
The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
Full Text of Resolution
Wednesday, 28 May, 5:30 pm.
1050 2nd Ave–the Great Room, La Escuelita Education Center–a block up 2nd Ave from Laney College
Please attend this important protest!
We are also asking supporters of Mumia to write emails to the Oakland School Board. Please see below.
Under pressure from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and Fox News, the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) recently shut down the entire “Urban Dreams” website, including material on Mumia Abu-Jamal authored by Oakland teacher Craig Gordon. Mumia was framed by the Philadelphia police and falsely convicted of murdering a Philadelphia policeman in 1982, a murder he did not commit. Continue reading