by Todd Steven Burroughs, Ph.D.

special to Prof. Kim's News Notes



Aspects of Mumia Abu-Jamalís life are familiar to those Baby Boomers who grew up yelling "Black Power," wearing Afros, and openly and romantically discussing how they would disrupt, destroy or subvert The Man. Abu-Jamal (born Wesley Cook in April 1954) became Lieutenant of Information for the Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party in 1969 at age 15. The Federal Bureau of Investigation began following him almost immediately, tracking his statements and activities and clipping his articles from The Black Panther newspaper. The young activist had left the group by the end of 1970, a casualty of the growing split that developed between BPP leaders Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. Abu-Jamal, who turned 50 this past April, is on Death Row in Pennsylvania, convicted of the 1981 murder of a white Philadelphia police officer.

This series was written to coincide with the 38th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party and the publication of Abu-Jamalís fifth book, "We Want Freedom: A Life In The Black Panther Party" (South End Press). Both the book and this series chronicle his involvement with the Party, putting it in the larger context of his life and of many other African-Americans of that time.

Copyright © 2004 by Todd Steven Burroughs


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Todd Steven Burroughs, Ph.D. ( is an independent researcher/writer based in Hyattsville, Md. He is a primary author of Civil Rights Chronicle (Legacy), a history of the Civil Rights Movement, and a contributor to Putting The Movement Back Into Civil Rights Teaching (Teaching For Change/Poverty & Race Research Action Council), a K-12 teaching guide of the Civil Rights Movement. He is writing a biography of Abu-Jamal.


photo of Mumia Abu Jamal from Internationalist Group
photo of Todd Steven Burroughs from Research Channel