Vermont college students to hear 20-minute pre-recorded Mumia speech at commencement

At Goddard College, where Mumia Abu-Jamal got a college degree through the mail in 1996, students will soon be hearing Mumia speak at their commencement ceremony.
Published : September 30, 2014

Mumia Abu-Jamal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons Mumia Abu-Jamal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

At Goddard College, where Mumia Abu-Jamal got a college degree through the mail in 1996, students will soon be hearing Mumia speak at their commencement ceremony.

 

Abu-Jamal, 60, imprisoned since 1981 for the murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, was selected to speak by the graduating students, the college said in a statement.

 

At Goddard, where every student "serves as his or her own valedictorian," according to president Bob Kenny, the graduating class selected Mumia to deliver their commencement address on Sunday.

 

Twenty out of 23 graduating B.A. or B.F.A. students will attend the ceremony.

"Choosing Mumia as their commencement speaker, to me, shows how this newest group of Goddard graduates expresses their freedom to engage and think radically and critically in a world that often sets up barriers to do just that,” Kenny said in a statement.

Abu-Jamal's pre-recorded speech will be played along with a short film.

Abu-Jamal, a radio journalist before his conviction, has attracted widespread media attention over the past two decades as he appealed his case and his sentence to death.

Abu-Jamal's deaths sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2011.

His prerecorded commencement speeches have been played before at ceremonies at Antioch College and Evergreen College.

The Mumia case is still sufficiently controversial that an Obama nominee to lead the Department of Justice's Civil Rights division, Debo Adegbile, was blocked in the U.S. Senate due to his serving as director of the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund while it was participating in an appeal of Abu-Jamal's sentence.

D.A. Seth Williams criticized the NAACP's appeal as "misleading the public."

Earlier this month, Adegbile formally withdrew himself from nomination rather than begin the process again, and accepted a post at a Washington, D.C. law firm.

 
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