PITTSBURGH-After spending almost two hours with Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row at State Correctional Institution Greene in Waynesburg, Pa., on May 12, Ossie Davis called for a new trial for Mr. Jamal and released the following statement:
“It was an extraordinary visit because I was dealing with, I think, an extraordinary man. There was a talent that I respected because I had read his writings before. But in conversations I became aware that this was a deeply spiritual human being who was capable of love, and that love was wide enough to embrace even those who would kill him.
“That’s not always the case when you are dealing with somebody who is a prisoner. As we talked, I became conscious of those many things in our past as Black people that have been imposed upon us, but which we’ve overcome. Asking ourselves how was it, how did we overcome slavery, how did we overcome Jim Crow, how did we overcome lynching.
“Whatever that thing is that enabled us to face and overcome-Abu-Jamal is full of it. And I was happy to be associating with him. I feel that he is a struggler for justice, a struggler for America to realize and become the nation it should be, to show in a sense who our fellow soldiers are in the war to make this the country it should be.
“The quality that made me respect him as a writer, developed in my mind as I listened to the qualities that make me admire him as a man. There was a young prisoner whom I got to know in the olden days whom I came to admire greatly as a man-his name is Malcolm X.
“It was only when I got to know Malcolm in person that I truly appreciated who he was. And so with Abu-Jamal, seeing him, looking in his eye, listening to him, checking for evidences … all those ways by which we as human beings can’t even see the things about ourselves, or reveal things. No, I found an openness between him, a readiness to communicate, the desire to be understood and accepted.
“Most profoundly moving was the sense that he had made peace with himself and with the universe and was prepared for whatever was going to be offered to him. He could meet it with equanimity. There was a nobleness about him that touched me.”