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Imam Jamil: One of the Last Living Civil Rights Heroes

Imam Jamil: One of the Last Living Civil Rights Heroes

Author Maha Safwan by

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Some of you may or may not have heard of Imam Jamil. Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, more commonly known as Imam Jamil, is one of the last living heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, a Black Muslim Revolutionary, and a Human Rights Activist. Imam Jamil was formerly known as H. Rap Brown and has, unfortunately, been wrongfully imprisoned for the past 20 years.

Imam Jamil accomplished several things as an activist and a revolutionary before he was wrongly imprisoned. He was the 5th chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee as well as the minister of justice for the Black Panther Party. He fought against Jim Crow segregation, organized voters, made fiery speeches that inspired his audience, and even met with President Lyndon B. Johnson to advocate and fight for Black American Rights. Imam Jamil had a large impact on the masses as his speeches would galvanize people.

The government was aware of Imam Jamil’s impact and would target him through a government surveillance program called COINTELPRO. This program’s goal was to disrupt Black political goals and was known for killing Black activists. Imam Jamil and several other activists including Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., and Elijah Muhammad were all targetted under this government surveillance program.

In 1971, Imam Jamil converted to Islam while he was in prison for attempted robbery. After his release from prison, he established a community mosque in Atlanta’s West End and campaigned against drugs, cleaned up the streets, and preached about Islam. He reformed the neighborhood and established many programs and Black-owned businesses. As he worked locally, the government tried to frame him for crimes to put him in jail. He was very influential as he would work socially, politically, and economically uplift the community which posed a threat to the government that was trying to break apart the minority groups.

He also helped establish the United States Council of Muslim Organizations by bringing together immigrant families into a coalition. The government saw this as a threat and the start of a revolution and thought that it had to be stopped. This led to Imam Jamil’s arrest and wrongful imprisonment that has lasted 20 years.

In March 2000, a man named Odis Jackson, who was on parole at the time, had an altercation with two officers and ended up shooting and killing one of them. Imam Jamil, who was at the scene, was convicted of the crime despite not matching the description of the suspect, and was sentenced for murder. Although there were several pieces of evidence that proved that Imam Jamil was not the suspect, judicial misconduct influenced by the FBI resulted in Imam Jamil being wrongfully imprisoned.

Furthermore, despite being a state prisoner, he was secretly transferred to the supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado without his family or his legal help knowing. In prison, he was forced to be in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day which resulted in him having multiple health issues such as cancer, a stroke, and near blindness due to lack of surgery for his cataracts. Eventually, he was transferred to a prison in North Carolina, and currently, he resides in a prison in Arizona.

Odis Jackson, the man who actually shot and killed the police officer, has admitted multiple times that he is the one who shot the officer, not Imam Jamil. Despite this confession, Imam Jamil remains in jail and even has a gag order placed on him. A gag order being placed on Imam Jamil results in him not being able to speak for himself and speak to others about his case. Because of this, the media, historics, and academics are unable to speak with him and get more information on his situation.

As mentioned, Imam Jamil is currently wrongfully detained and has been for the past 20 years. Students for Imam Jamil is an organization dedicated to advocating for the freedom of Imam Jamil. They are holding a rally on Sunday, October 4th at 3 PM at the West End Park in Atlanta to help advocate for his freedom, help him be liberated, and bridge the intergenerational gap. Students for Imam Jamil are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook where they continue to raise awareness about Imam Jamil and advocate for his liberation.

What we can do to help Imam Jamil is to spread awareness of his situation, ask for an immediate call to action for this birthday to be the last birthday Imam Jamil spends wrongfully imprisoned, and help influence the decision to reopen his case. On their Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, Students for Imam Jamil have a link where you can access resources to ask for new and access resources to learn about Imam Jamil.

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