Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mumia Speaks...John Hope Franklin: The Passing of a Griot

Portrait by Simmie Knox

[col. writ. 3/29/09] (c) '09 Mumia Abu-Jamal

For historians of every stripe, the name John Hope Franklin (1915-2009) is one that cannot be ignored. This is, in part, because he was past president of the American Historical Association ((AHA), a group of American scholars that has been in existence since 1884.

But his distinction arises from his work in the vineyards of American history,
as a corrective to the lies about U.S. slavery, through his 1947 classic, From Slavery to Freedom, which considered with the work of late radical historian, Herbert Aptheker's American Negro Slave Revolts, served to abolish the white-washing of American history that generations of historians inflicted on generations of American students.

Franklin was born amidst the flames and terrors of the infamous race riots that consumed Tulsa, Oklahoma, once the center of Black wealth and business success. The papers and even books called it a race riot, but it was actually an anti-Black pogrom by state and private racists in envy of Black Tulsa's achievements.

That his classic work, From Slavery to Freedom, is still in print today, over 1/2 a century since its initial publication is a testament to his historic brilliance.

Still, that wasn't my favorite work of his. In 1999, Franklin and one of his former students, Loren Schweninger, published Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation(Oxford Univ. Press). It's both fascinating, and given its grim subject matter, surprisingly funny in its uncovering of dozens of hidden stories from slavery days.

Franklin and Schweninger mined the private letters of slaveholders to unearth their real concerns. In an April 7, 1829 letter from Louisiana cotton planter, Joseph Bieller, he complains bitterly about the slave's practice of 'swinging' his pigs. Wrote Bieller, "I have had a very seveer time among my negroes.... they have bin Swinging my hogs and pigs."

Bieller meant captives were tying up, treeing and swinging his pigs until they were badly damaged. In other words, one form of property was destroying another form of property.

Also, Franklin's work illustrates, through reprint of runaway ads in the newspapers, that all kinds of captives fled their captivity; as shown by the descriptions used to describe them, like: "intelligent", "witty", "quick-witted", "proud", "shrewd", and "keen", just to name a few. Among them were every strata of slave life: young, old, male, female, African, mixed, rebel, Uncle Tom, well-treated or whipped. Everybody wanted freedom.

And perhaps this was Franklin's robust contribution -- the thirst for freedom that bubbled in Black hearts from 1619 to the present.

John Hope Franklin was 94.

--(c) '09 maj


The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at:

Mumia Abu-Jamal's new book -- JAILHOUSE LAWYERS: PRISONERS DEFENDING PRISONERS V. THE USA, featuring an introduction by Angela Y. Davis -- will be released soon!
It will be available from City Lights Books at a 30% discount weeks before you can get it at any other bookstore, or from Amazon.

Sign up for an email alert and when the book becomes available for sale you'll receive an email letting you know:

In support of Mumia and the publication of JAILHOUSE LAWYERS, organizations around the country will be holding "More Than a Book Party" events on or around Mumia's birthday, April 24, 2009.

If you are planning to organize an event or would like to order in bulk, you can also receive a 45% discount on any bulk orders of 20 copies or more. The book retails for $16.95, for orders of 20 copies or more the discounted price would be $9.32 per book, plus shipping and handling. Prepayment would be required and books are nonreturnable. If you or your organization would like to place a bulk order, please contact Stacey Lewis at 415.362.1901 or

Let's use the opportunity of the publication of this brilliant, moving, vintage Mumia book to build the momentum for his case, to raise the money we desperately need in these challenging economic times, to get the word out – to produce literature, flyers, posters, videos, DVD's; to send organizers out to help build new chapters and strengthen old ones, TO GET THE PEOPLE OUT IN THE STREETS … all the work that we must do in order to FREE MUMIA as he faces LIFE IN PRISON WITHOUT PAROLE OR EXECUTION!

Please make a contribution to help free Mumia. Donations to the grassroots work will go to both INTERNATIONAL CONCERNED FAMILY AND FRIENDS OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL and the FREE MUMIA ABU-JAMAL COALITION (NYC).


Please mail donations/ checks to:
NY 10030

215 476-8812

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
Mumia Abu-Jamal
AM 8335
175 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370


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More On W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio:

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Keep Hope Alive!!! Tha Artivist Reports...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: Dr. John Hope Franklin Interview...

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