Mumia Abu-Jamal is a native Philadelphian, an activist, journalist, and scholar who was raised on Wallace St. in a close knit Black community in the 1950s and 60s. Throughout his life as a radio personality and writer, Abu-Jamal worked tirelessly to assure safety and just treatment for Black residents in Philadelphia and in other major U.S. cities. He used his voice as a powerful tool for change during his career as a journalist for notable outlets such as WHYY. Mumia has written and published more than a dozen books about issues of social justice, including a recent book, Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?
In this city of “brotherly love” there has been little love shown to the brothers. Philadelphia is a mostly Black city and yet Black residents are virtually absent from the public history and monuments of the city. Philadelphia boasts over 1500 public sculptures and monuments, only two of those sculptures pay tribute to Black people.
The renaming of Wallace St. is a crucial symbol that will mark the history and future of movements for social justice in the city that claims to be the birthplace of liberty.
If the city of Philadelphia can see fit to rename of a portion of 59th St. W. Wilson Goode Sr. Way, in spite of the fact that Goode participated in unprecedented acts of violence on other Philadelphians with the dropping of a bomb on the Black neighborhood of Cobbs Creek, destroying 61 homes and murdering 11 members of the MOVE organization, including five young children, I see no reason not to name a street after a beloved native of Philadelphia such as Mumia Abu Jamal. Similarly, Christopher Columbus has a major boulevard named after him, as well as a statue, which, until very recently, stood looming as a violent symbol of his and other colonizer’s violent massacre of Native peoples in the Americas.
It is imperative that we honor those community histories and Black lives that have pushed to transform our society into one that is free for all. Mumia Abu-Jamal is just that person who pushes to make sure Black lives truly matter in our city.
On the MOVE