Prison Radio
Mumia Abu-Jamal

She was born Aug. 25, 1947, a daughter of a Southerner, but a Philadelphian to her bones. Born into a family of all brothers toughened her, as demonstrated in her teen years, when I saw her knock a boyfriend over a metal railing. He seemed more shocked than hurt (but it’s possible he hid his pain to protect his male ego). Back then, she was called ‘Penny’ for her dark, coppery skin, and her bright, dazzling smile.

She was a dancer of modern dance, and of course boogied under the influence of The Rhythm n’ Blues era which featured acts like the Supremes, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. She was a good student, and while a young woman she earned her rating to become a registered nurse. She became the mother of Vernon and Jabari. In 1996 she met and married noted Black nationalist scholar, author and Reverend, Ishakamusa Barashango, who introduced her to a world of new knowledge on a wealth of subjects.

She helped him run The Temple of The Black Messiah, a spiritual home for a growing Black Nationalist community in Philadelphia. She worked as a youth counselor and ran a Rites of Passage program for young, troubled Black girls. She loved her People, her children and grandchildren, and her brothers. Lydia Umyeml Barashango succumbed to breast cancer just days after her 64th birthday. She will be lovingly remembered forever, not only by this brother, but by many other brothers-and sisters.