Mazi Jamal's speech in Cuba
Mazi Jamal is the 22-year-old son of US journalist and civil rights activist Mumia Abu-Jamal. His father is on death row after being framed for the murder of a policeman. Mazi Jamal travelled to Cuba the last week of June-beginning of July 2000 with the JoJo White Solidarity Project. In Manzanillo he addressed a rally of 200,000 people. The following text is directly from his notes: Good morning everyone! It does my heart good to see everyone here today filled with the spirit of the revolution. I know that this is a sight that my father would give his eye teeth to be here and see for himself. In fact I would give up mine for him to be up here with me basking in the warm glow of your love, and drawing strength from yours. There are many people who could not be here this beautiful morning and before I continue to speak about my father I want to recognise two men who are no longer with us because they now exist only as memories; as casualties of American society. The first is Shaka Sankofa (see last week's Guardian), a man who was trapped, who had his options limited in America by a society that had no place for him to grow. Like so many black men in my country he had his first chance to become political, to become educated, to truly become a man, while imprisoned. The second man I want to recognise is the son of my friends Derrel Myers and Naomi White and the reason that I was able to come to Cuba and see your revolution with my own eyes. I never had the pleasure of knowing their son JoJo White for myself. But there is an ancient Chinese proverb that states "At the end of your life your true riches are the memories that you leave in the minds of your loved ones". In my short time in Cuba I have come to realise that JoJo died a rich man indeed because his loved ones are some beautiful people; people who have risked much to come to your island and honour his memory. In that spirit and so that we can honour these two men and their loved ones I ask you all to join me in a moment of silence for Shaka Sankofa who was taken by my government and JoJo White who was taken far too young. (Moment of silence) For my father: Many have asked me how it feels to be the son of such a famous father. Here is the answer to that question. I feel sad that I live in a nation that claims to have been created in the idea of freedom; a nation that represses, incarcerates and murders those who would speak for the people. I feel angry that my tax dollars have gone to pay for the corrupt police who beat, framed and tried to murder my father. I feel angry that those same dollars pay for the corrupt and racist judges who sentenced him to death. I feel angry that those same dollars pay for the bed that he will sleep on tonight and the walls that keep him from us. But when I look out into the crowd today I feel hope and joy because I know that my family has your support. And with that support I know that my father will one day be free like your child Elian is now free. When we raise our voices in unison the government of my country, that racist, imperialist machine cannot ignore us. Viva Shaka Sankofa! Viva JoJo White! Viva Mumia! Viva Fidel! Viva La Revolution!