Prison Radio

Dear Friend,

It is hard to write while crying.  But let me try.   

Mumia Abu-Jamal is awkward and funny. He walks slowly, slew foot. Deliberately. Lumbering.

He has a big broad and warm and an open smile. His hug is thick and solid, it is like you are hugging a giant grandpa, but can reach only halfway up, as he leans over. 

His beard is scraggly and gray, neat but consciously, deliberately, unconforming. Always his own. Dreads were rare in America when he first wore them. He flips his locks from his face with the back of his hand. He is professorial with a touch of pirate, half glasses resting on the bridge of his nose, as he leans forward to read. Every piece of paper a treasure.  

When he is shocked or surprised, he leans back, crooks his head and narrows his eyes and gives a penetrating and quizzical look.  Open. Questioning. Searching.  Not quite vulnerable, but open. “Really, why?” he might ask.  He loves chocolate, pastry and cheesecake, and hoagies. He will choose salad if available.  He drinks water or a ginger tea, never soda. When he laughs, his whole body laughs, hearty, loud, and he snorts. He can be sonorous, radio preachy, in a way even when talking.  It is easier to report, than be the story.  That is why he so rarely talks about himself in his public work.  He loves to listen.  His observations are his way of being in the world with us.  He is consciously building a bridge with us, by sharing himself on the airwaves. 

He is guarded with all emotions except love and concern for others.

He recognizes how much he has lost.  When he lets himself realize, the years have turned to decades of loss, he has a resolute fierceness born of a love of himself and his family and ancestors.  Instinctually he cannot compromise his and their principals and integrity.  He cannot be polite and allow false promises, or white lies.  Some men might be consumed by anger.  But I have never seen him hold onto anger, or act from anger in person, or personally. Never. 

I have seen him be deliberate in writing, pushing, or pulling away, by retreating to his internal world, or defending others by trying to shield them from harm.  He loves fiercely and unconditionally.  

His loyalty to his family is all encompassing. His greatest sorrow is that all of his efforts to be there for his grandchildren, and great grandchildren, cannot match what he would give if he were able to live with them.  

Mumia loves with an enormous and unfailing and gigantic heart.

Mumia, as you begin your journey to recover from your heart surgery, we will be with you.  We will send love and letters.  We will scale the mountain of freedom and bring you back home with us. 

I will write you today.  

Mumia Abu-Jamal
Smart Communications/PADOC
Mumia Abu-Jamal, AM 8335
SCI Mahanoy
c/o PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733

(Florida is not a misprint, letters to Mumia are sent to the mail contractor in Florida and then scanned and printed and given to him).  He will receive these in the infirmary and in his cell.  Every prayer and letter matters. 

When We Fight, We Win. 

Noelle Hanrahan 
Prison Radio

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(c) Melissa Jones