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Ode to Jo Jo White

Long version: mp3, 2.52 MBs, 3.04

[Col. recorded 11/01/03]

It was several years ago when I received a letter from Sister Kiilu Nyasha a popular broadcaster in San Francisco, about the tragic killing of a promising youth named Jo Jo White. At 23 years old Jo Jo had barely begun to live, yet his astonishing thirst for life and his loving sense of humanity endeared him to many.

Many more people than his parents Naomi White and Derrel Myers could even begin to believe. Like most parents Naomi and Derrel saw their boy as special but they had no real way of knowing that hundreds perhaps thousands of other people from a wide swath of humanity felt the same way about the young man. However they would learn, he loved life like most young people but he seemed to possess a deep love of people and reflected it in his daily work and life. He worked with children in San Francisco and with his peers in the hip - hop and music community. He was a passionate and devoted supporter of mine and visited Cuba, Mexico and other sites in the world to
create better relations between peoples. In his heart of hearts he was an
internationalist who saw himself, not so much as American as human, as part of the people of the entire world.

In response to the tragic killing of their only child, Naomi and Derrel were understandably thrown into a world of horror, loss, pain and despair. But a remarkable thing happened days after his shooting. A week after his passing, several hundred people, friends of JoJo from his job, from school, from the hip hop nation, gathered at the corner of sixteenth and Carolina to pay tribute to a life that touched them all. This, in the pouring rain, was a measure of how he was regarded by those who knew him. His parents were stunned and moved.

Through the rain and tears they saw in the glow of young candlelit faces the meaning of a life lived in loving touch with others. That vigil gave birth to a diverse confederation of broken, yet resilient and hopeful young hearts, the JoJo White Solidarity Project, based on the view that JoJo was a victim of not just one lone shooter, but was one of many victims of an unjust, and violent social system. Within days, an overflowing memorial for JoJo initiated work to help raise awareness of Mumia’s case, and the plight of millions of others downed by law. Plans were made to honor his life with
a memorial trip to Cuba, where scores of his young friends later traveled and experienced an alternative to this social system. Since then their commitment of resistance to war and injustice has inspired and helped hundreds of others to carry out solidarity work in the U.S. and around the globe. They continue to fight against the system that made his and so many other lives seem cheap. They work for life. JoJo would be proud.

From Death Row this is Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Copyright 2003 Mumia Abu-Jamal


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Submitted by: Sis. Marpessa

Text © copyright 2003 by Mumia Abu-Jamal.
All rights reserved.
Reprinted by permission of the author.