“Law and Liberation.”
From the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement now comes the rise of Law for Black Lives, a collective of lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers, and other legal workers in support of the latest iteration of the black freedom movement. It couldn’t come at a better time, for times of social movements need all the legal assistance it can muster.
For those who oppose that system of white supremacy and rampant negrophobia are often targeted by that same system for special punching. Perhaps the most renowned black lawyer in U.S. history, Charles Hamilton Houston, who trained through Thurgood Marshall in the law, taught his students a lawyer’s either a social engineer or he’s a parasite on society.
Today, of course, he’d say she. Marshall, Houston’s star pupil who later went on to become the nation’s first black Supreme court justice, would recount one of his law professor’s most potent lessons: “There’s no law on our side? Let’s make some.” I carry these words to L4BL: let’s make some. But I hasten to add this lesson from a jailhouse lawyer. The law is a tool that the state often used for repression.
Where are the lawyers challenging unjust and unconstitutional laws like Clinton’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, known as AEDPA, or the Prison Litigation Reform Act? These so-called laws were designed to enshrine injustice in statute. The gay rights movement forced the fall of DOMA, the patently unconstitutional defense of Marriage Act. It’s time for the black freedom movement to force the fall of AEDPA and PRA, acts based on lies and injustice which have contributed to mass incarceration.
I’ve quoted a preeminent law professor. Now, let me quote an outlaw, revolutionary naturalist. John Africa of the MOVE organization, a man bombed by the government on May 13th, 1985 in Philadelphia. This is what John Africa taught MOVE members. Just because it’s legal don’t make it right.
Remember? The Holocaust was legal. Slavery, one of the greatest crimes against humanity, was legal. The mass internment of Japanese Americans, according to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision, was legal. All of this was legal, but was it right?
Through L4BL, let’s fight for what’s right, for freedom, not mass incarceration, for justice, not repression, because black lives matter? All black lives matter. On the move, long live John Africa. All power to the people.
From imprisoned nation, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.
These commentaries are recorded by Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio.