Sept. 11 marked the first National Day of Art to Stop the Execution of Mumia Abu-Jamal. Throughout the day and into the night artists, activists, and interested passers-by took part in artistic endeavors to raise awareness about Mumia’s case, and express our anger as well as hope.
In San Francisco, some of the local activities included guerrilla slide shows with live musical accompaniment, poetry slams, and dance parties. The event that probably brought in the largest audience was a free concert in Dolores Park.
Michael Franti of Spearhead, the S.F. Mobilization to Free Mumia, Mumia 911, as well as other musicians and organizations, pulled together an impressive line-up of spoken-word artists and musical groups.
The Coup energized and entertained the crowd with their politically conscious and often humorous lyrics. The audience also seemed very enthused by the beats of the well known hip-hop group Digital Underground.
I was not the only one, however, who found their lyrics degrading towards women. By constantly referring to us as sex objects and glorifying men who use women for sex, they totally disregard our humanity.
Luckily, Spearhead closed the show with their unique style, incorporating elements of hip-hop, reggae, soul, and rock. Their message of revolutionary love and unity was well received and shared among the crowd, which was notably mixed in gender as well as ethnicity. The MC, Davey D of KMEL radio, also noted the presence of people of all ages, from infants to grandparents.
Our YSA table was a great success. Over 40 enthusiastic young people signed our mailing list, over 100 papers were sold, and we raised almost $200 for the upcoming YSA trip to Cuba by selling T-shirts and flags of Che Guevara.
The National Day of Art demonstrated the power of art as a mode of self-expression capable of transcending one’s self and infusing others to act.
Using the motivation of beauty and truth, we are able to rejuvenate our bodies, our hearts, and our minds, washing out the lurking sense of hopelessness and igniting the revolution!
-RAINY DEMERSON, UCLA-YSA