June 30, 1999 - Arriving in Germantown (a neighborhood in Philadelphia), walking from the train station to the rowhouse we stayed in last summer, the volunteers, new and old, received fists in the air and questions like, "y'all back?" or "what's up with Mumia?" As of Monday, the last day before PFS officially began, we had about 15 more volunteers than we'd expected. People arrived at all hours of the day, from all over the country - Illinois, Ohio, California, Boston, New York, Maryland and Philly itself. So we have about 30-35 people at moment and are expecting more people as of Thursday.
Monday night, those of us who were here, received the incoming volunteers and oriented them. Hanging out, calling more volunteers and hearing stories of PFS past, brought us closer together. While Mumia is actually what has brought us together, our getting to know each other and developing friendships has created a deeper sense of unity, a community, and has raised our spirits. The same is true of our consciously collective cooking, shopping and cleaning.
Tuesday morning, a general orientation was had, with C. Clark Kissinger of Refuse & Resist! on the overall project, the history of Mississippi Freedom Summer, and the past and present of Mumia's case. Many people said afterward that hearing about the history, as well as the current political climate, that it really gave them perspective and the right mindset for PFS. We learned about attacks that have been coming down on people like the Black United Fund, MOVE, and Mumia's supporters. Most of all, though, the volunteers really liked the way Jana of the R&R! Youth Network put Mumia's significance in terms of how the youth see him and have been inspired by him. It stated clearly why youth need to be in forefront of the battle to save Mumia's life, and why and how we have.
Although we were already largely established as the "Mumia people" in G-town,
the volunteers all decided to have a "ballyhoo" (an event to promote a cause). We took out the new, freshly designed Face of Justice poster to the
people, marching/walking with the big, beautiful banner that we had at the
Millions for Mumia rally that reads, "Mumia is Fearless, So are we, We won't
stop until he's free! Refuse & Resist!". We began by chanting that slogan.
People held up their fists and parents let their kids run with us, taking
the Face of Justice to their neighbors. "The people and the volunteers were
pumped!" is how one volunteer put it. We definitely got out our energized and
determined spirit. Fredom Summer 1997 -->
You could see that the people who remembered the FOJ (Face of Jamal) from last summer really appreciated that determined spirit. The people we met along Chelton Avenue, a main shopping street, knew of Mumia and thought it was cool that we were out here with this poster campaign. Some people took a handful of the poster to organize their apartment buildings, churches, etc. This ballyhoo gave the volunteers the chance to see where we would be going, to hear the sentiments of the people, and express our excitement. It made the volunteers psyched to go out to the people. It also created more of a collective feeling, by gelling us as a group and make us more recognizable as the "Philly Freedom Summer youth," and not just the "Mumia people."
For those of us who were here last summer, we can see just how much better our work is going to be. We already have the poster, though still need to fundraise to pay for them. We're already organized into 3 different squadrons with about 11 people each. Two of the houses are in G-Town, with one in West Philly, with hopes of going into other neighborhoods.
Join and support Philly Freedom Summer!
Send funds to support the volunteers!
Volunteers still needed through July 11.
Contact Refuse & Resist! 212-713-5657 firstname.lastname@example.org
305 Madison Avenue #1166, New York, NY 10165 http://www.refuseandresist.org
Youth Network | R&R Main Page
305 Madison Ave., Suite 1166, New York, NY 10165
email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org