Mumia Abu-Jamal speaks with student protesters on Palestine

Screenshot of panelist on webinar: The People vs. the State, July 3, 2024.

The following is a report on video recordings between political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and five student activists from encampments for Palestine Liberation during a webinar July 3 titled “The People vs. the State.”

Shena Sood of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home pointed out that many of the students in the encampments had heard about Mumia there for the first time. She also said that Mumia’s failing health was due to medical neglect by the prison system as is true of many political prisoners.

Next came a brief statement by Johanna Fernandez of the Campaign and professor of history at Baruch College, of the City University of New York, who went over some of the legal chicanery committed by the state in originally convicting Mumia.

Fernandez shared a clip of Mumia speaking to the City College of New York student encampment. He sounded wonderful despite poor health. He said the students must speak out against the terrorism afflicting Gaza, “with all of your might, with all of your will … that it’s time right now, this day, hour, moment to be heard! … so the people of Gaza, Rafah, the West Bank can feel your solidarity.” 

Mumia added: “It is not enough to demand ceasefire! Demand cease occupation!” The shrill prison recording sounded every three minutes throughout his talk. It only served to intensify his message.

The students were then introduced. They included: Hadeeqa Arzoo Malik, CCNY; Beson Ahmad, Temple University; Safiyyah Ogandipe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Steff Reed, Union Theological Seminary (UTS); and Nicolas Brown, Columbia University. Though they came from different universities, the students were unanimous in their response to Mumia’s message and in their views towards the struggle.

Hadeeqa Arzoo Malik said, “Everyone is aware of the connection between prisoners of war and people dying in Gaza.” She said the role of the students is to be “breaking down the barrier between students and the community” to unite the movement.

Beson Ahmad, who had participated in the Gaza encampment at the University of Pennsylvania, stressed the quality of “steadfastness” that she saw in Mumia, how despite 42 years of imprisonment, he is still going, just like the people of Gaza. Students have a tradition of protest, she added.  

Nicholas Brown said that hearing Mumia reminded him of his ancestry, his family and the bond of connection among people at the encampment. 

Safiyya Ogandipe, too, pointed out that she felt immense trust in the others at the encampment, in their ingenuity and commitment.

Arzoo Malik said she felt great pride in CCNY and their tradition of struggle. She stressed that CCNY is in Harlem, a community rich in activism, “where the lines between the students and the people of the community are blurred.” She said that the activism didn’t stop after the encampment ended, and that having built connections, they continued struggling, because “if you love what you do, it’s energizing.”

Ahmad said she never felt what she was doing was a sacrifice: “I was continuing the work my grandparents died doing in Palestine. … We need to do this. It’s not a burden! I chose it.” She added they had to continue, because “genocide doesn’t stop when the bombing ends. … We’re here to free all people!”

Steff Reed said that he had to acknowledge his own privilege as a student but expressed satisfaction with UTS beginning to divest and his role in making that happen.

Arzoo Malik ended by saying she was delighted that all the students felt united about the encampments: “Nothing matters when you pursue something righteous. … Life is bigger than you. … I feel proud of being labeled as a domestic terrorist!”

Mumia praises ‘unity’ 

And then Mumia came on the call. In answer to the students’ questions, he said he was honored to be on the call with them. “You act with class and class consciousness.” He was thrilled about the arrested Columbia students demanding that the arrested CCNY students be treated with the same respect as they were. “You responded as human beings! You’re on the right path of history.” 

Answering Reed’s question about the role of music in the struggle, Mumia said:  “Every movement needs music to move people. … Find what turns you on.” He said it felt wonderful speaking to the students. It took him back to the 1960s and the Vietnam War — which “was also a war of settler-colonialism.” He added, “It’s clearer now with Gaza, that is an open air prison.”  

Mumia ended by saying that the watchword was “Unity!”:  “You are rocking this country. … People are studying this movement all over the world, because it’s a moment of freedom within repression!”  He quipped, “If Huey [Newton] and Eldridge [Cleaver] had had your media, we would’ve won!” But then he added, “Don’t rely on corporate media. You have your own. So people outside of the circle of students should hear it. I commend you.”

The prison recording ended the call, and when it did,  the students called out triumphantly, “We did it!”

Note on videos

This report was based on two videos. The longer version included an introduction by Tg, a Mumia Campaign representative who gave a tribute to the ancestors. He said that political prisoners are all prisoners of war in this global struggle, whether they are Palestinian, Sudanese, Haitian, from the United States or anywhere — and we cannot turn our back on them. He also mentioned that Mumia was in his 42nd year of incarceration and in that time has written 13 books important to the struggle. (  

The shorter version of 14 minutes shows only the final 14-minute actual discussion between Mumia and the students. (


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