It is clear that the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests have been incredibly necessary, and pushed the current civil rights movement forward. However, there question continues as to why many people wait until we’re saying “rest in peace” to get involved and get active in civil rights movements and matters. While many of us love and respect the memories of those who died knowingly fighting for their civil rights or because their rights were violated and their deaths galvanized masses, it’s often not until after they have passed that they become household names, and their situations become points of contention, protest, and activism. This needs to stop. We need to push back on the criminal justice system more proactively, especially in the cases of the living. Right now, we have such an opportunity in the case of our brother, Imam Jamil.
Currently, in Fulton County, Alabama, Imam Jamil, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, is incarcerated for a crime that, according to all informed sources, he did not commit. Organizers held a national call to action on August 2, 2020, and posted the following information:
“Imam Jamil Al Amin, formerly known as H. Rap Brown, a longtime forgotten Black revolutionary and civil rights icon wrongfully imprisoned, has a new opportunity for justice and needs our urgent help. Students for Imam Jamil, a grassroots campaign of national youth organizers, calls upon all local organizations, in particular those related to the life of Imam Jamil — Black, Muslim, civil rights, justice, advocacy, community, student, and faith organizations, to advocate and act on his behalf.
For those unaware, Imam Jamil Al Amin, at the time H. Rap Brown, was the fifth chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and minister of justice for the Black Panther Party during the civil rights movement. At the age of 21, Brown, as part of a delegation to demand action for the civil rights of African Americans, met with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Brown laid the foundations for Black political power in the South by fighting against Jim Crow segregation and organizing Black voters.
Brown moved to Atlanta, Georgia as Imam Jamil Al Amin upon conversion to Islam, to establish a community mosque in the West End neighborhood, notorious for its gang violence and drugs. Imam Jamil, concerned about the social revolution and spiritual upliftment of his community, led a neighborhood cleanup of drugs and prostitution through anti-drug and violence campaigns, and established several social programs to serve youth, women, and senior residents.
Imam Jamil was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for a crime he did not commit. Despite confession from the actual perpetrator, the confession has never been mentioned in a single trial of Al Amin’s, and judicial misconduct led to the factual evidence left outside of the trial. Those who stand for justice against the systemic oppression facing Black lives in America and Muslim surveillance in a post-9/11 society, must also stand in solidarity with a living Black Muslim revolutionary who has been long forgotten.
Imam Jamil was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2002 for a crime he did not commit. Despite confession from the actual perpetrator, the confession has never been mentioned in a single trial of Al Amin’s, and judicial misconduct led to the factual evidence left outside of the trial. Imam Jamil Al Amin has been intentionally targeted, framed, and tarnished from the history of the civil rights movement for his powerful revolutionary character deemed as a threat to the establishment.
Those who stand for justice against the systemic oppression facing Black lives in America and Muslim surveillance in a post-9/11 society, must also stand in solidarity with a living Black Muslim revolutionary who has been long forgotten.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s Office has the power to reopen Imam Jamil’s case and exonerate Imam Jamil based on the clear evidence of his innocence and confessions of the crime. The current District Attorney, Paul Howard, is in a runoff election this coming Tuesday, August 11th. The time to apply national pressure is now to demand a retrial of Imam Jamil’s case to make this a campaign promise and top priority for the incoming DA!”
The struggle for Black lives is at the center of people’s attention, more so than it has been for decades. It is essential that we all, to the best of our ability, use this momentum to effect the greatest change possible. Making #FreeHRapBrown trend is another opportunity for all of us committed to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
You can learn more about Imam Jamil here: Free Imam Jamil. You can also read this very informative Twitter thread that goes into great detail about Imam Jamil and the injustices he is currently facing.
Follow Sarah Huxtable Mohr on Twitter at @SarahHMohr.
Sarah is a social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with at-risk and homeless youth. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God in her free time. She is currently working on a book on Sufism, mindfulness and recovery from co-occurring disorders and on an album with her band EYETestify.