Incarceration Nation

In Tribute to Wadiya Jamal

“Wadiya was a force of nature, with vibrant beauty, unconquerable like a lioness.” —Mumia, December 30, 2022

Wadiya Jamal was a woman of strength and courage, a fierce warrior for Mumia. She was driven by her unbreakable love, devotion, and admiration for Mumia. They were soul mates.

In the early morning hours of December 9, 1981, Wadiya learned that Mumia was shot and critically wounded. She appeared at Jefferson Hospital, supported by Pam Africa, and demanded to see Mumia. She held a press conference. Wadiya declared Mumia’s innocence, denounced the police shooting and brutal beating of Mumia, and proclaimed “his only crime is that he survived.”

Wadiya helped set the international stage for the decades-long campaign for Mumia’s freedom. She spoke in NYC in December 1988, bringing knowledge of Mumia as the “voice of the voiceless” to an international audience. In October 1989, at a Philadelphia rally co-sponsored by State Representative David Richardson, Wadiya graphically described that the District Attorney and cops “want to kill Mumia to silence him.”

She said, “We need to fight the same people who put him in prison…they want to see Black men imprisoned for the rest of their lives or in their graves. They want Mumia dead—sooner than later.”

In July 1990, at another Philadelphia rally, Wadiya countered a speaker who said Mumia shot Faulkner in self-defense. Wadiya was unequivocable that Mumia did not shoot Faulkner and he was factually innocent.

In April 2015 when Mumia was hospitalized for a diabetic coma, Wadiya denounced the prison medical malfeasance, part of the continuum of the attempts by “this rotten ass system” to kill Mumia. She told the world in that press conference:

“Enough is enough!!! My husband is innocent. He killed no one. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, his only crime is he survived a severe gunshot to the chest and a serious ass-whipping by ‘Philly’s finest’ and then they attempted to kill him in his hospital bed by stepping on his urine bag by flushing the poison back on him. He is innocent in the murder of P.O. Daniel Faulkner and the cops on the scene all knew that. But Mumia was convicted for a murder he did not commit and sentenced to death. And now they are trying to do it again.”

Wadiya made sure photos were taken that clearly showed the extent of Mumia’s skin condition and overall frailness. Those photos were important exhibits in the later court proceedings that led to Mumia getting treatment for Hep C.

—April 5, 2023, With Love and Respect,

Rachel Wolkenstein, Proud be called “Big Sis” by Wadiya Jamal