We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party (New Edition)

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5.4 X 8.4 X 0.9 inches | 0.85 pounds

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About the Author

Mumia Abu-Jamal is an award-winning journalist and former Black Panther Party member, whose previous books include Live From Death Row, Death Blossoms, All Things Censored, Faith of our Fathers, Jailhouse Lawyers, and Writing on the Wall. He has been living in Pennsylvania prisons since 1982, the majority of those years spent on death row.

Kathleen Cleaver, an activist scholar, has taught at Emory University School of Law and Yale University's African American Studies Department. She quit college in 1966 to join the Civil Rights movement, then served as the Black Panther Party's Communications Secretary from 1967-1971. Cleaver coedited the essay collection Liberation, Imagination and the Black Panther Party, and is author of the forthcoming Memories of Love and War.


It is clear that Abu-Jamal has been irrevocably shaped by the past he writes about in We Want Freedom and that he is writing about the past as much as he is writing to the present. Dubbed voice of the voiceless for his advocacy journalism in Philadelphia, Abu-Jamal has written a book which amplifies the voices and experiences of rank-and-file members and attempts to ground their stories in a local context. . . .We Want Freedom forces scholars to reframe their assumptions about the Panthers' internal political culture, bottom-up realities, gender politics, and organizational history. Considering the conditions under which the book was researched and written, this is no small accomplishment.
Robyn C. Spencer, author of The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland, and Associate Professor of History at Lehman College, City University of New York
Mumia is a soldier in the war for the soul of America. He is fighting the good fight with the same weapons his ancestors fought with: words. He sings with his words; he sings with his heart; he sings with the truth. Mumia is a free man, no matter what his address because he is a man who knows who he is: a child of challenging God.
Nikki Giovanni, Poet"
Mumia Abu-Jamal speaks in a voice as timeless as the resistance to oppression he personifies. His words, his mind indeed, his life itself stand as inspiration to all of us who yearn for liberation, exemplifying the continuities of struggle joining one generation to the next in our common effort to attain the dignity of human freedom. This book is as necessary as it is unavoidable. It simply must be read by everyone endowed with the least twinge of social conscience.
Ward Churchill, author of Acts of Rebellion, Perversions of Justice, and On the Justice of Roosting Chickens"
This book amazed and delighted me. I m still not sure how Mumia has managed from a maximum-security prison cell to encompass in one book the broad scope of US history, a global perspective, and many intimate, first-hand accounts of life, love and politics in the Black Panther Party. Mumia tells this story with such energy and passion that reading it, I felt I d returned to the storefronts and battlefronts of the 60s and 70s. This is the Black Panther Party and the social movements to which it was connected in its historical context, its hopes and triumphs, as well as its tragedies and limitations. It is a story fundamental to understanding the US of the 20th and 21st centuries, and I am eternally grateful to Mumia Abu-Jamal for having written it.
Laura Whitehorn, former political prisoner and editor of The War Before:
The True Life Story of Becoming a Black Panther, Keeping the Faith in Prison, & Fighting for Those Left Behind by Safiya Bukhari"
We Want Freedom is a welcome addition to the Oakland centered accounts of the Black Panther Party. Mumia Abu-Jamal provides a provocative and insightful narrative of local Panther activism in Philadelphia. He presents a superb and thoughtful critique of a myriad of organization dynamics, including tensions between local Party affiliates and national headquarters, gender relations, and intrafactional conflict within the BPP. Mumia s We Want Freedom enriches our understanding an appreciation of the Black Panther Party. His work will undoubtedly inspire his former Party comrades to document their experience of local Panther activism in the various communities across the United States.
Charles E. Jones, chair of the Department of African American Studies, Georgia State University and editor of The Black Panther Party Reconsidered"
Mumia Abu-Jamal has forged from the furnace of death row a moving, incisive and thorough history of the Black Panther Party. This book is required reading for any who would seek to understand race, revolution, and repression in the United States [G]iven the resurgence of overt and covert government suppression of dissent, true accounts of the popular struggles of the late 60s and early 70s are needed now more than ever. Abu-Jamal carefully imparts the history as passionate participant, skilled journalist, and critical historian. That he was accomplished this without interruption to his prolific written and recorded commentaries, his continuing struggle against political persecution within an unjust criminal justice system, and despite the death penalty that hangs over his head daily, is further testimony to the need we all share to stop his planned execution. Amy Goodman
Weaving his experience in the Black Panther Party into the tapestry of Africans history in America, Mumia Abu-Jamal s book is essential reading for all of us involved in the struggle for freedom.
George Katsiaficas, coeditor Liberation, Imagination, and the Black Panther Party with Kathleen Cleaver"
Writing from the barren confines of his death row cell, Mumia Abu-Jamal provides a remarkable testament about the Black Panther Party. . . .His frank vignettes of unforgettable encounters with fellow members, hostile opponents, larger-than-life Panther leaders, and brutal police are a sheer delight to read.
Kathleen Cleaver, from the Introduction"
We Want Freedom demonstrates once again Mumia Abu Jamal s leadership and commitment to activism and social change. Abu Jamal s accounts of the strengths and triumphs of the Black Panther Party give readers hope. However, for those who view the governments repression of the Black Panther Party as unique, the book also gives an opportunity to see what the USA PATRIOT Act portends for social justice activists of today.
Tonya McClary, American Friends Service Committee National Criminal Justice Program"
This gripping revelatory account of the valiant struggles and achievements of the Black Panther Party is a superb antidote to he defamatory histories put out by some earlier writers. Mumia fashions a multi-dimensional story with fine style, ideological clarity, and great humanity as is his way.
Michael Parenti, author of The Assassination of Julius Caesar and The Terrorism Trap"
Mumia s keen analysis of the Panthers provides readers with a unique understanding of an organization J. Edgar Hoover deemed the greatest threat to internal security in the country. Rewarding too is his fresh assessment of the role of women in the Party, which thoughtfully draws on the work of the late Safiya Bukhari.
Herb Boyd, editor of Race and Resistance and Black Panthers for Beginners"
In this polemic-cum-history, Abu-Jamal, the world s most famous political prisoner, offers a celebratory look at the origins and accomplishments of the Black Panther Party, of which he was a member in the 1970s. The author, now on Pennsylvania s Death Row for the murder of a policeman, mounts a wholly unreconstructed defense of the Oakland-based group as a bona fide revolutionary organization of global import. He seeks to place the Panthers within the noble tradition of African-American armed resistance, invoking slave rebellions and the names of Nat Turner, John Brown and Frederick Douglass. The BPP was not criminal or sexist, he declares, but a positive force for change that fell victim to the viciousness and lawlessness of the FBI. In contrast to this often hectoring tone, a charming note of humor creeps in with Abu-Jamal s interspersed recollections of life as a 16-year-old revolutionary.
Publishers Weekly"
Writing eloquently from his prison cell, Mumia Abu Jamal gives us a fascinating and unusual history of the Black Panther Party. His chapters A Woman s Party and COINTELPRO would be enough to make this book an invaluable addition to anyone s reading list.
Howard Zinn, author of A People s History of the United States