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Former Black Panther’s Political Memoir “forges from the furnace of death row a moving, incisive, an


We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party

October 15th marks the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party. It also marks the publication of the new edition of We Want Freedom, Mumia Abu-Jamal’s award winning history of the Black Panthers. The world’s most renowned political prisoner, Mumia was only fifteen when he helped found the first Philadelphia branch of the Black Panther Party. Now, as calls that “Black lives matter” grow louder, Mumia connects the historical dots between contemporary struggles and the Panthers’ demand for the “immediate end to police brutality and the murder of Black people.”

With a poetic voice and critical gaze, We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party combines memories of day-to-day life in the Party with rigorous analysis of the Black liberation struggle. Mumia challenges historians who claim that only the civil rights model was authentic, positioning the BPP as an ahistorical aberration. He brilliantly locates the Party in a centuries-long tradition of Black resistance, a legacy articulated in Kathleen Cleaver’s sharp introduction as a “disfavored history.” The roots of today’s struggles are brought to the surface time and again as Mumia examines the long history of resistance to slavery, racial politics in Philadelphia, and the FBI’s subversion of justice through COINTELPRO and earlier operations.

In an open, conversational style Mumia also remembers his personal experience as a Party member, placing the reader in the life of the average Black Panther. While many books on the Black Panther Party focus on the icons of the organization, We Want Freedom conveys the everyday grit, love, and dedication of the tens of thousands who called themselves Panthers.

An award-winning journalist, Mumia began his writing career as Lieutenant Minister of Information for the Philadelphia branch and for the Party’s national newspaper. Alice Walker describes Mumia as “a rare and courageous voice speaking from a place we fear to know.” He is regularly heard on a network of over 150 radio stations and at

After years of international protests, on December 18, 2001, the U.S. District Court overturned Mumia’s death sentence, but upheld his conviction. In 2012 Mumia was moved, for the first time, into general population, after almost thirty years on Death Row. That same year, the first edition of We Want Freedom became unavailable in the US with the closing of South End Press. Now, Common Notions is pleased to work with Mumia to bring out a new expanded edition and make this essential book available once again to readers and revolutionaries.

We Want Freedom book cover

For more information, review copies and interview requests, contact Alexander Dwinell at or Malav Kanuga at

We Want Freedom: A Life in the Black Panther Party (New Edition)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

Introduction by Kathleen Cleaver

336 pages / October 2016

ISBN: 978-1-942173-04-5 paper $20

Common Notions

131 8th Street #1

Brooklyn NY 11215

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