One Life To Give Essay

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One Life To Give

On December 9, 1981, a white Philadelphia police officer was fatally shot. On July 3, 1982, Mumia Abu-Jamal, a black man, was convicted of his murder and sentenced to death. On May 22, 1996, he received a second trial and was again convicted of the same charge. He is sentenced to die on December 2. The hours grow short until this man, who has promoted through his writings and speeches an image of himself as falsely accused, is ushered into the record books as one more name dealt justice by the American people. But who constitutes the American people? Is it a judge in a courtroom, or the thousands of people who have protested Abu-Jamal's death as the death of an innocent, an intellectual, and above all, a black man in
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Davis, June Jordan, and Alice Walker wrote a plea for Mumia Abu-Jamal's life inThe Nation. It is a clear announcement of the widely held belief that by saving the life of this one man we can begin to unravel the horrible racial tangle in which this country finds itself. Not even the UN, with its 1997 statement that in the US "race, ethnic origin, and economic status appear to be key determinants of who will, and who will not, receive a death sentence," managed to trigger such political opposition to the racist policies behind the death sentence as has the cult of one individual. Abu-Jamal, states the article in The Natio, "ennobles the rest of us to deepen, enlarge and improve our political opposition to a state gone mad with greed and the pathologies of uncontested, supremacist might." Talk about PR. The issue is no longer the life of one man, but the plight of all black people suffering at the hands of "a state gone mad."

Such hope is good, but the disturbing part of the Nation article comes at the very end. We are excitedly recruited to join the fight for a new trial. Come again? Isn't this noble man the victim of a system choked with "supremacist might"? Aren't the judicial cards hopelessly stacked against black people? Why should a third trial prove any fairer? The choice of action called for in the article, and by most groups supporting Abu-Jamal, suggests that the protesters

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