Have Black Lives Ever Mattered?

Mumia Abu-Jamal. City Lights, $14.95 trade paper (220p) ISBN 978-0-87286-738-3
The 75 pithy essays collected here, written between 1998 and 2017 by political activist and journalist Abu-Jamal (Live from Death Row), possess the impact and immediacy of the events that precipitated them (half of the essays are set in motion by the recent killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown) while also being haunted by the longer history of police violence. While the author does reflect on the widely reported cases of police violence against African-Americans, as well as on the role of the media in determining what gets attention, the strength of the book rests in the essays that draw attention to lesser-known victims of police violence, particularly women of color whose stories never reached the mainstream media. Over the course of nearly four decades in prison, Abu-Jamal, who was sentenced to death in 1982 for the shooting of a policeman (a conviction that was overturned in 2001), has become an astute student of the justice system as well as a particularly cogent opponent of the death penalty. “The rage of protest,” he observes, is often followed by silence, and “the silent assault of mass incarceration” persists. The brief essays here offer small but potent doses of Abu-Jamal’s informed and impassioned writing. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/17/2017
Release date: 06/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 144 pages - 978-0-87286-739-0
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