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MONA, PAM & MONICA: Harriet’s Granddaughters
[speech writ 3/17/17] ©’17 Mumia Abu-Jamal
March, we are told, is Women’s History Month.
We are here to celebrate the lives of several revolutionary women, but also to recognize a simple, undeniable truth: without women, there would be no months to celebrate, for women gave birth to the world.
Harriet Tubman was one of the greatest freedom fighters in history, for she brought forth hundreds of souls from the prison house of slavery, bringing them North of the dreaded Mason-Dixon Line, and after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, bringing them to the far north of Canada.
I say that these 3 women (‘Mona, Pam & Monica) are like Harriet, for they all fight for freedom almost every day, against great odds, and they kept on pushing - no matter what.
Ramona Africa was a young college student trying to learn the law at Temple University. She was invited to come to City Hall to actually see what went on in the MOVE trial. She was wholly unprepared for what she saw, for nothing she read in law books could explain the naked brutality of the law as saw practiced in City Hall courtrooms.
She witnessed the railroading of MOVE men and women, and it turned her away from her chosen profession of lawyer.
In short, what she saw MOVE members experience in pretrial hearings and in trial repulsed her, indeed it radicalized her.
She entered courts a mild-mannered college student; what she saw and heard turned her into a committed revolutionary: Ramona Africa, MOVE member.
But this wasn’t all. As she came closer to MOVE and the Teachings of John Africa, and as she worked for the freedom of MOVE members, she didn’t know that the government was planning what they considered MOVE’s ‘Final Solution’.
On May 13, 1985, she found out. The world found out when city, state and federal government agencies conspired to bomb MOVE from a helicopter.
When the fires had eaten its fill, 11 men, women and children were either shot or burned to death. Their dogs were killed. An entire city block looked like Dresden, the Eastern German city bombed in World War II
Mona, burned badly on her arms, was one of 2 survivors of the firebombing in West Philadelphia. She was also the only person ever imprisoned for -- “Riot!” It’s fitting that she never believed in the law that she once studied. She believed in Revolution.
She believes in it today.
Pam Africa was light-hearted party girl, until she met MOVE. They were neighbors of hers. She wasn’t really into them, until she saw them attacked by police. She followed her heart, and warmed to them. The closer she got the more she found herself targeted and threatened.
She would not ignore what she saw. She couldn’t.
She didn’t run away. She moved closer to MOVE, and to John Africa.
Pam Africa, guided by her powerful heart, and the power of her love for MOVE people, became a MOVE person. MOVE became her brothers and sisters - her family.
They respected her fighting spirit so much that MOVE’s Founder, John Africa, named her Minister -- of Confrontation.
She attended court hearings and was constantly faced with threats of violence by cops for her MOVE advocacy. In defense of others she had her teeth knocked out, her leg broken - but she kept on scrapping.
She isn’t just a fighter. When she speaks, she sets crowds on fire. She is a Master Organizer. Sets them ‘Ona Move!’ For the young generation of activists, such as Black Lives Matter, she is known respectfully as Mama Pam.
She is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. And like Harriet Tubman, her mind, her soul, her fists are stuck on Freedom!
Monica Moorehead is a leading member of the Worker’s World Party, a national Marxist collective. Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels, authors of The Communist Manifesto wrote: “… [T]he Communists everywhere support every revolutionary movement against the existing social and political order of things.”
It is a dictum that Monica and her WWP colleagues take to heart. They work with a wide range of people, trying to organize them into movements of resistance. From repression against labor unions, to a new wave of women’s movements; from the scourge of mass incarceration; from the cancer of police repression in Black and Latina America; to the state terrorism encapsulated in the racist US death penalty; from Imperial wars in Iraq; to the drug wars against innocents abroad, Monica and her comrades have been there, joining with, and giving voice to, movements which seek to build better worlds.
Monica comes from a long line of resistance to racism and repression. She was born in Jim Crow-era Alabama, the granddaughter of school teachers, and daughter of two college professors. As a high-school student and member of the school band, she caused a ruckus by refusing to play “Dixie”. As a young woman she was a supporter of the Prisoner Solidarity Committee and sold copies of The Black Panther newspaper.
Her parents were part of the Montgomery Bus Boycott led by Rev. Martin Luther King. Monica remembered her mother, a brilliant musician, being thrown out of a whites-only bathroom by cops.
From a youth of resistance to a life of resistance is the story of Monica Moorehead. She is an editor of the revolutionary weekly, Worker’s World. She has co-authored and edited several books: including Marxism, Reparations and the Black Freedom Struggle, and the reprint of A Voice From Harper’s Ferry, by Black revolutionary Osbourne Anderson, who accompanied John Brown on his raid on a federal armory to arm Black slaves.
In 2000 she helped organize an historic Free Mumia rally at Madison Square Garden, and in 2016, she ran for US President on the Worker’s World ticket.
Who says revolutionary women don’t rock the world?
Women build the world; they surely gotta right to rock it.
Harriet’s Granddaughters: Mona Africa, Pam Africa and Monica Moorehead!