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Biography

  • Born

    24 April 1954 (age 65)

  • Born In

    Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, United States

Mumia Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook; April 24, 1954) is a political activist and journalist, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for the 1981 death of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. He became widely known while on death row for his writings and commentary on the criminal justice system in the United States. After numerous appeals, his death penalty sentence was overturned by a Federal court. In 2011, the prosecution agreed to a sentence of life imprisonment without parole. He entered the general prison population early the following year.

Beginning at the age of 14 in 1968, Abu-Jamal became involved with the Black Panther Party and was a member until October 1970. After he left the party, he completed his high school education, and later became a radio reporter. He eventually served as president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He supported the MOVE Organization in Philadelphia and covered the 1978 confrontation in which one police officer was killed. The MOVE Nine were the members who were arrested and convicted of murder in that case.

Since 1982, the murder trial of Abu-Jamal has been seriously criticized for constitutional failings; some have claimed that he is innocent, and many opposed his death sentence. The Faulkner family, public authorities, police organizations, and conservative groups believe that Abu-Jamal's trial was fair, his guilt undeniable, and his death sentence appropriate.

When his death sentence was overturned by a Federal court in 2001, he was described as "perhaps the world's best known death-row inmate" by The New York Times. During his imprisonment, Abu-Jamal has published books and commentaries on social and political issues; his first book was Live from Death Row (1995).

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