Aug 25, 2022 - News

Mumia Abu-Jamal's records find new home at Brown University

Mumia Abu-Jamal's longtime prescription glasses on top of letters he received from people across the globe.
Mumia Abu-Jamal's prescription glasses on top of letters he received from people across the globe. Photo courtesy of Brown University

A trove of writings from Mumia Abu-Jamal, whose controversial conviction for the fatal shooting of a Philly cop in 1981 sparked a worldwide "Free Mumia'' movement, now has a home at Brown University.

Driving the news: Abu-Jamal's records will anchor a new collection at the university's John Hay Library called Voices of Mass Incarceration, the university said in a statement Wednesday.

Catch up fast: The Center City fatal shooting of officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981 is one of the most high-profile police shooting cases in Philadelphia and around the world.

  • Born Wesley Cook in Philadelphia in 1954, Abu-Jamal was convicted of murdering Faulkner in 1982. His sentence was reduced to life in prison in 2011 after spending decades on death row.
  • Abu-Jamal, who's always maintained his innocence, became the face of the anti-death penalty movement in the U.S. and published dozens of books and commentaries while behind bars.

Details: The records from Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, include:

  • Documents about his trial, prison and death row experiences
  • Reflections on civil rights and freedom
  • Artwork
  • Newspaper clippings, cards and letters

Plus: The university also acquired the thick aviator glasses that Abu-Jamal, now 68, wore for years.

Of note: The university also obtained the related papers of Johanna Fernández, a long-time advocate of Abu-Jamal's.

What they're saying: The collection of Abu-Jamal's records paints a vivid picture of life as a prisoner, Kenvi Phillips, Brown's director of library diversity, equity and inclusion, said in a statement.

  • "This collection will give scholars a rare chance to peer inside prison walls and understand how incarcerated people live, think and advocate for themselves."

What's next: The university will catalog the records and papers and is expected to make them available for use in 2023.

Artwork and photos
Photo courtesy of Brown University
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