Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience, Expanded Edition
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About the Author
Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist, political activist, and author. In 1981, he was elected president of the Association of Black Journalists (Philadelphia chapter) and was a radio reporter for National Public Radio (NPR). As part of a team of reporters at WHYY, one of NPR's premier stations, he won the prestigious Major Armstrong Award from Columbia University for excellence in broadcasting.
On December 9, 1981, Abu-Jamal was shot, arrested, and charged for killing a white police officer in Philadelphia. In 1982 he was convicted and sentenced to death in a trial that Amnesty International determined "clearly failed to meet minimum international standards safeguarding the fairness of legal proceedings." After he had spent over 28 years on Death Row, in 2011 Abu-Jamal's death sentence was vacated when the Supreme Court affirmed the decisions of four federal judges who had declared his death sentence unconstitutional. He is now serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole. Throughout his decades of imprisonment, most of which was spent in solitary confinement on Death Row, Abu-Jamal has steadfastly maintained his innocence.
Abu-Jamal obtained his GED in prison in July 1992; he earned his BA from Goddard College in January 1996; he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Law degree from the New College of California in May1996; and in 1999, he earned a Masters of Arts degree from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is currently working on his Ph.D.
Abu-Jamal has produced radio commentaries with Prison Radio for decades, and has authored more than 10 books, including Death Blossoms, Live From Death Row, We Want Freedom, Jailhouse Lawyers, The Classroom and the Cell, Murder Incorporated, Writing on the Wall, and Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?
In late 2018, Abu-Jamal's right to appeal was reinstated by a Philadelphia judge. The ongoing fight for his freedom continues
Cornel West is a prominent and provocative democratic intellectual. He is Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and holds the title of Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. He has also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Yale, Harvard, and the University of Paris. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton. His books include Race Matters, Democracy Matters, Brother West, and Black Prophetic Fire.
Julia Wright is the daughter of American author Richard Wright.
"Uncompromising, disturbing ... Abu-Jamal's voice has the clarity and candor of a man whose impending death emboldens him to say what is on his mind without fear of consequence."--The Boston Globe
"Abu-Jamal's words flow like the sap from trees, pulsing with energy and capturing the essence of life."--Library Journal
"Vigorous social critiques and moving essays on matters of faith ... the flame of Abu-Jamal's keen intellect and irrepressible soul burns brightly, illuminating each mind that opens to his wise words."--Booklist
"A brilliant, lucid meditation on the moral obligation of political commitment by a deeply ethical--and deeply wronged--human being. Mumia should be freed, now."--Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
"A brilliant, powerful book by a prophetic writer. Mumia refuses to allow his spirit to be broken by the forces of injustice; his language glows with an affirming flame."--Jonathan Kozol
"Crucial reading for all opponents of the death penalty--and for those who support it, too."--Katha Pollitt, The Nation
"If Mumia Abu-Jamal has nothing important to say, why are so many powerful people trying to kill him and shut him up? Read him."--John Edgar Wideman
"For years in my classrooms I have watched Death Blossoms do its luminous work. It has awakened the conscience of so many of my student readers. Once awakened, they begin to shoulder the disciplines of its revolutionary knowing, moral passion, historical precision and clarity of reason. No wonder repressive powers seek death for this prisoner of conscience. Alas for them, Mumia still lives. From streets to classrooms and back, Death Blossoms keeps opening up consciences, hearts, and minds for our revolutionary work."--Mark Lewis Taylor, Professor of Theology and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, and author of The Theological and the Political: On the Weight of the World
"Targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO for his revolutionary politics, imprisoned, and sentenced to death, Mumia found freedom in resistance. His reflections here--on race, spirituality, on struggle, and life--illuminate this path to freedom for us all."--Joshua Bloom, co-author with Waldo E. Martin Jr. of Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party
"In this revised edition of his groundbreaking work, Death Blossoms, convicted death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal tackles hard and existential questions, searching for God and a greater meaning in a caged life that may be cut short if the state has its way and takes his life. As readers follow Mumia's journey through his poems, short essays, and longer musings, they will learn not only about this singular individual who has retained his humanity despite the ever present threat of execution, but also about themselves and our society: what we are willing to tolerate and who we are willing to cast aside. If there is any justice, Mumia will prevail in his battle for his life and for his freedom."--Lara Bazelon, author of Rectify: The Power of Restorative Justice After Wrongful Conviction
"Mumia Abu-Jamal has challenged us to see the prison at the center of a long history of US oppression, and he has inspired us to keep faith with ordinary struggles against injustice under the most terrible odds and circumstances. Written more than two decades ago, Death Blossoms helps us to see beyond prison walls; it is as timely and as necessary as the day it was published."--Nikhil Pal Singh, founding faculty director of the NYU Prison Education Program, author of Race and America's Long War
"For over three decades, the words of Mumia Abu-Jamal have been tools many young activists have used to connect the dots of empire, racism, and resistance. The welcome reissue of Death Blossoms is a chance to reconnect with Abu-Jamal's prophetic voice, one that needs to be heard now more than ever."--Hilary Moore and James Tracy, co-authors of No Fascist USA!, The John Brown Anti-Klan Committee and Lessons for Today's Movements
"[Mumia Abu-Jamal] mentions that this is the book's 'third life, ' which shows its staying power as a kind of Black radical spiritual reader."--Todd Steven Burroughs, author of Marvel's Black Panther: A Comic Book Biography, from Stan Lee to Ta-Nehisi Coates