Frances Goldin on Mumia (4:34) Frances Goldin (2012)

5/18/20

In 2012 Frances Goldin gave an interview about her work with Mumia for the making of the film Long Distance Revolutionary (2012). This four-minute cut is a collection of some of the most poignant things she said in the course of that half-hour interview.

 

 

Transcript:

I think that Mumia's body is incarcerated.  But not his mind.  I think that he lives in the whole world. Not in that cell, not in that small seventeen by eleven foot cell. It is only his body that’s encaged. He’s more free than a lot of people I know that are not in prison at all. He has broken the bounds and if he hadn't they would have let him out long ago. This man is not doing time. He is using time in a way that nobody I have ever met who is in prison has used time.
 
Well I am a radical woman. So one day over the transom I got a manuscript from this prisoner at Huntingdon in Pennsylvania and he had written a story about prisoners on death row.  And I read it and I thought it was terrific. And I sent it to twelve people and I sold it. And that was the start of a very long tight relationship both as agent and as friend.
 
Mumia is a very serious writer.  He doesn't write about anything historical unless he has read ten or twenty books which gives him the basis for making a statement about whatever it is he’s writing about. He reads voluminously, he reads many  books for each book he writes.  He does an enormous amount of research and before about six years ago he did everything with a pen.  And on his third finger on the side of— near the side of his thumb—he had a callous the size of a finger, from holding his pen and writing everything in ink. Now he does use a typewriter and it really saved his life.
 
His voice is so magnificent; it is so melodious and vibrant. He has a stunning voice and his diction, his accent is... professional, and wonderful that’s why he was so successful on radio. 
 
Between the letters and the statement and the books and the documents that he writes for a variety of reasons, his work day is never less than ten hours. Every day. And is frequently twelve hours. He works harder than any person I know. I think he does two commentaries a week about what is going on in the world. I have learned, when I am confused I wait for him to write a commentary to educate me because I know he’s right, and what I have been reading in the papers is wrong. 
 
So he is the most hard working author I have. He produces more than anybody else. He is just a machine that never stops working. 
 
Well not everybody can so succinctly and clearly outline what we are doing that is wrong in the world. And he’s— never stops doing that.  I think that one of the reasons that he is still incarcerated is because he will not shut up. He will not hide the truth from his followers.  He insists on telling it like it is. That’s why he’s still in jail. He shouldn't be. He should be out.
 
I think that the evils of the prison system all over the world has been made more clear by Mumia.  Making...making it public. Exposing what’s wrong with it and demanding that it be changed.  He doesn't do time.  He is using it like no one I have ever met is using it.
 
He’s the freest incarcerated man I have ever known.