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Mumia Abu-Jamal

Askia Muhammad: Black Journalist

He was known as Askia Muhammad, and in his 76 years of life, he was principally known, and indeed renowned, as a Black journalist. But he was also a poet, a photographer, and hosted a radio program in Washington D.C.’s Pacifica station, WPFW.

He was a senior editor and correspondent for The Final Call, the weekly journal of the Nation of Islam. He wrote for the Washington Informer, a Black-owned newspaper serving the Black community in D.C. Askia Muhammad worked as a journalist and broadcaster at WPFW for more than 40 years. He called his show, Yardbird Suites, a tribute of sorts to the jazz saxophonist, Charlie Parker, whose nickname was Yardbird.

In an interview with The Final Call, Muhammad explained how his jazz show began: “I discovered, in my limited collection, that there was a recording by Charlie Parker. My name, given by my mother, was Charles. So I had some identification with that. Then I discovered that he recorded a song, his signature song, ‘Yardbird Suite.’ The ‘Yardbird Suite’ was recorded on my first birthday. So, I said it’s a natural. I’ll have a yard bird show, and that was it.” Muhammad’s show was called “a vital addition to D.C.’s culture.”

Askia Muhammad returned to the source on Thursday, February 17th, after 76 winters in America.

With love, not fear, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.