By Dolores Cox
Published Jan 22, 2011
The 15th Annual Dinner Tribute to the Families of our Political
Prisoners and Prisoners of War was held at the Martin Luther King Jr.
Labor Center in New York City on Jan. 15. This year's theme was
"Fanning the Flames of Liberation: Educating Our Community About Our
The families of nine political prisoners/prisoners of war were
presented and honored, including one of Malcolm X's daughters. They
were saluted for their courage and sacrifices to the struggle for
self-determination and liberation.
The dinner tribute was sponsored by the Malcolm X Commemoration
Committee and activists in Service Employees union Local 1199. The
program included libation, cultural presentations and speakers from
the committee and from former political prisoners. Keynote speakers
were 2008 Green Party vice presidential candidate Rosa Clemente and
Jihad Abdul-Mumit, Jericho Movement national chairperson and former
prisoner. Moderator was Brother Zayid Muhammed.
Among statements read was one from Herman Ferguson, former prisoner,
co-founder of the Malcolm X Commemoration Committee and original
member of Malcolm's Organization of Afro-American Unity.
Participants observed a moment of silence for prisoners who committed
their lives to the struggle and died in prison. Most of the prisoners
being honored have been in jail for more than 35 years and are
scheduled to never be reunited with family or friends. Some are
serving life sentences for fighting for a better world, a world
without racism and oppression.
Speakers stressed the importance of coalition building, collaboration
and strengthening the movement, as well as the need to expand
outreach nationally and internationally. Plus the need to find more
effective ways of fighting the system. The National Jericho Movement
circulated a petition calling for congressional hearings on the
legacy and continuing impact of the FBI's illegal counterintelligence
program known as Cointelpro.
The meeting acknowledged several political prisoners who had been
imprisoned for more than 35 years and denied parole. At the same
time, speakers pointed out that the New York state parole board
released Malcolm X's convicted killer this past April after he served
the last 20 years in a work-release program.
Also mentioned was that Mumia Abu-Jamal was denied a crucial Supreme
Court hearing and that a biased propaganda film against Mumia, "From
the Barrel of a Gun," has been made. A progressive film, "Justice on
Trial," addressing evidence and issues relating to violations of
Mumia's constitutional rights has also been produced.
Among those honored was people's lawyer Lynne Stewart, now serving 10
years, as well as her family. A moving statement from Stewart was
read by Rosa Clemente.
All those present were encouraged to write and visit prisoners being
held throughout the U.S. criminal injustice system to let them know
they're not forgotten. To become involved, visit
TheJerichoMovement.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.