‘The future is in the people, and the people can’t wait’

These edited remarks were made at the July 3 Free Mumia rally in Philadelphia. 

I owe my start in political organizing to Workers World Party and to the movement to free Mumia Abu-Jamal. To Pam Africa and Mike Africa Jr., to Asantewaa Nkrumah Ture and to YahNé Ndgo, to Joe and Betsey Piette, to Larry Holmes and Monica Moorehead, to Mumia Abu-Jamal himself. This movement has birthed generations of revolutionaries.

Ted Kelly speaking at rally for Mumia, Philadelphia, July 3.                     WW Photo: Joe Piette

I want to go back to something Krystal Strong said about organizing within the community. Right now they’re organizing at 7th and Wallace streets, the neighborhood that Mumia grew up in. That’s important. In the struggle for revolution in this country and around the world, we have to transform the way that human beings interact with each other. This country, the ideology of this country, it is fetid and backwards, and it smashes solidarity. It destroys communities.

While we were marching, Mike Africa Jr. told the story about the construction workers in the high-rise down the street here. Years ago at a march to free Mumia, workers were throwing debris and garbage down at the protesters.

These were union workers. We’re in the midst of a huge union drive effort around the country. Now, these are very important workers fighting for each other in the workplace, understanding that they have common grievances and uniting for power in the workplace.

But how can you draw a line at fighting for the Black struggle? This is individualism. This goes against community. This is against revolution. If we want to fight to transform this society, we need everybody onboard.

But here’s the thing: oppressed people cannot wait. Black workers cannot wait for everyone else to realize, oh, you know what? This is a pretty bad situation, this is a pretty racist society.

‘We need soldiers’

They can’t wait. That’s why the Black Liberation struggle has always been at the forefront of the leadership of the revolutionary workers struggle in the United States and around the world. If you are not fighting for Mumia Abu-Jamal, you are not fighting for the man who has dedicated his life fighting for you.

Forty years! Forty years this man has been in a dungeon for you and for me. Sundiata Acoli, Russell Maroon Shoatz, Mutulu Shakur, Delbert Africa. These are people who have put their lives on the line to fight for everyone, to fight for revolution, to change the way that human beings interact with each other.

Tomorrow is July 4th, and we need to understand that this is not the land of white picket fences. It’s the land of pointy white hoods. This is not the land of liberty and opportunity; this is the land of mandatory minimums and juvenile lifers. And this is not the birthplace of democracy. This is the burial ground of John Africa, of Crazy Horse, of Sitting Bull, of Chairman Fred Hampton.

And we do not need any more martyrs. We need soldiers to fight this fight. Too many people have laid down their lives in service of a revolution that we still fight for. How much longer do you expect Black Liberation fighters to wait? How much longer are we supposed to wait for the freedom of Mumia Abu-Jamal?

I just want to say to the people who have used the strength of the movement to take power and then ignore the people that put them in power: We see you. Do you think we don’t know when we’ve been betrayed, [District Attorney] Larry Krasner? If you turn your back on this movement and you turn your back on the struggle to free Mumia Abu-Jamal, you will take that shame to your grave.

The future is in the people you see around you right now. It’s in the people all around the world today, in cities from Oakland to Philadelphia, in countries from Germany to South Africa. The future is in the people. And that’s why we say all power to the people. Free all political prisoners! And free Mumia Abu-Jamal!

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