All Things Censored
Independent Publisher Book Award: Essay/Creative Nonfiction, 2001
More than 75 essays—many freshly composed with the cartridge of a ball-point pen, the only implement Mumia Abu-Jamal is allowed in his cell—embody the calm and powerful words of humanity spoken by a man on death row. Abu-Jamal writes on many different topics, including the ironies that abound within the U.S. prison system and the consequences of those ironies, and his own case. His composure, humor, and connection to the living world around him represents an irrefutable victory over the "corrections" system that has for two decades sought to isolate and silence him. The title All Things Censored refers to Mumia's hiring as an on-air columnist by National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and subsequent banning from that venue under pressure from law and order groups.
"To some, Abu-Jamal, convicted in the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer, is a cold-blooded cop killer, but to his supporters, the death-row inmate is a hero, wrongly condemned by a racist system. In this collection of forceful prison essays and radio talks written over the last decade (a sequel to Live from Death Row and Death Blossoms ), former Black Panther Abu-Jamal maintains that he was targeted by the state because of his political beliefs and associations … Whatever one thinks of Abu-Jamal's guilt or innocence, his attack on capital punishment as a discriminatory, racist practice is compelling, as his critique of our bloated prison system, which, according to an American Bar Association report cited here, is self-defeating because dehumanizing conditions produce more criminals." —Publishers Weekly
"Abu-Jamal, a gifted and controversial Philadelphia journalist, was sentenced to death in 1982 for the murder of a police officer, a crime, as Alice Walker writes in her foreword, 'millions of people around the world' believe he did not commit. Abu-Jamal has not suffered the injustice of his nearly 20-year incarceration on death row in silence. He has written two previous, widely read and discussed books, and by virtue of the power of his ever-lucid voice and humanistic point of view, he was invited to contribute commentary to National Public Radio's "All Things Concidered" in 1994. His work was never aired however, because the network gave Bob Dole and the National Fraternal Order of Police. In spite of this setback, and subsequent retribution (much of it illegal) for his insistence on being heard, Abu-Jamal has continued to write, and now , thanks to the effort of his supporters, 75 of his eloquent and indellible essays about the failings of the courts, so-called correctional facilities, and the media are available, accompanied by a CD of his banned radio recordings. When Abu-Jamal is censored, everyone's civil rights are threatened. Let freedom ring; let Abu-Jamal speak." —Booklist (starred review)