France Honours Black Death Row Inmate: The French Capital, Has Bestowed One of Its Prestigious Accolades, Honorary Citizen of Paris, on the Radical African-American Death Row Inmate, Mumia Abu-Jamal

By Jere-Malanda, Regina | New African, November 2003 | Go to article overview
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France Honours Black Death Row Inmate: The French Capital, Has Bestowed One of Its Prestigious Accolades, Honorary Citizen of Paris, on the Radical African-American Death Row Inmate, Mumia Abu-Jamal


Jere-Malanda, Regina, New African


Mumia Abu-Jamal, a former Black Panther, civil rights activist and journalist, sentenced to die over 21 years ago for the murder of a white policeman, has become only the second person in three decades to be given the Honorary Citizen of Paris award. The last one was the Spanish-born painter, Pablo Picasso, in 1971.

At a ceremony attended by over 200 supporters, Bertrand Delanoe, the mayor of Paris, who gave the honour, attacked "the barbarity called the death penalty". He said, amid cheers, that "as long as there is a place on this planet where one can be killed in the name of the community, then we haven't finished our work".

Accepting the award on behalf of Abu-Jamal was none other than Angela Davis -another controversially radical former Black Panther, now civil rights activist and campaigner against the death penalty, who also gives speeches supporting black prisoners protesting their innocence in American jails.

Ms Davis praised Abu-Jamal's "profound sense of humanity". She also attacked America's unilateralism and "racist" attacks against immigrants in America.

"The movement to free Mumia has taken on a new sense in the face of American unilateralism, the aggression against the people of Iraq and the racist attacks against immigrants which only further gnaw at the vestiges of democracy in America," said Davis.

Now a professor at the University of California in Santa Cruz, Ms Davis aptly resonates with Abu-Jamal's plight. In 1971, while actively involved with the Black Panther movement and the American Communist Party she was arrested and charged for kidnap, murder and conspiracy in the Soledad Brothers murders--a case which became one of the most famous in the history of the US justice system.

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France Honours Black Death Row Inmate: The French Capital, Has Bestowed One of Its Prestigious Accolades, Honorary Citizen of Paris, on the Radical African-American Death Row Inmate, Mumia Abu-Jamal
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