Kamau Becktemba, at support protest for Mumia Abu-Jamal.


Kamau Becktemba passed away Jan. 13 after a long illness. A well-known Black activist, Becktemba was present for decades at most events defending Mumia Abu-Jamal in Philadelphia. His vehicle was covered with Black Power and political prisoner placards and stickers and RBG flags, Becktemba often led chants on his bullhorn or while taking a video. 

Becktemba didn’t grab the limelight, but he was firm in his belief that Mumia is innocent and was unafraid to say so at every opportunity. He set an important example for other activists by always being at demonstrations well in advance of starting times, usually helping to set up sound and providing banners for the event.  He would frequently provide rides to key prisoner supporters like Pam Africa to visit Mumia and other prisoners.

When cops killed an innocent man, Becktemba was there quickly supporting the relatives of the deceased. He put together a “Black Power” room in his West Philadelphia home dedicated to the Black Liberation struggle, packed with political prisoner posters and protest placards. He had shelves of DVDs of political music from the Caribbean and the U.S., as well as hundreds of historic videos he took at movement meetings and street protests. 

The next time there’s a rally in Philadelphia against police brutality or for Mumia Abu-Jamal or another political prisoner, when the “Brick by brick, wall by wall, we’re gonna free Mumia Abu-Jamal” chant is raised, many activists will be reminded of Kamau Becktemba’s strong voice that led that chant for many years.  

Kamau Becktemba — ¡Presente!

Joe Piette

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Joe Piette

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