End the Isolation of Jamil Al-Amin
(formerly H. Rap Brown)

Open Letter to the Bureau of Prisons and State of Georgia by Concerned Academics

We are academics who have spent our careers researching the history of the civil rights movement, issues of racial discrimination in the United States, civil rights law, and the representation of minorities in the public sphere. We strongly believe that deepening knowledge of our nation’s past is essential to informing progress in American politics and race relations today.

The acquisition of historical knowledge is strengthened considerably by having living participants in those histories recount their experiences. We are therefore dismayed to learn of the current restrictions placed upon one such prominent participant, Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown).

During the 1960s, Al-Amin was a national leader of the civil rights movement and was chair of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, one of the era’s key organizations. As a civil rights leader, he met with President Johnson, spoke across the country, and appeared regularly in television interviews. He is currently an inmate at the federal prison at Tuscon, Arizona. He has been held in federal custody, on behalf of the Georgia Department of Corrections, since 2007.

Throughout the last decade, all requests for interviews by scholars and journalists have been denied by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Their decision is, in part, based on the Georgia Department of Corrections’ view that Al-Amin is ineligible for interviews "due to the potential security risks.” Letters to and from Al-Amin are usually held by the government for months before they are released. In these ways, Al-Amin is prevented from any form of practical communication with scholars who wish to document this history.

We understand that Al-Amin has been convicted of an extremely serious charge. However, we do not believe there is any reasonable basis upon which to deny him direct access to scholars and journalists. His story ought to be documented for posterity. In-person interviews with him in prison are essential for this purpose because he is seventy-four years old and is serving a life sentence without parole.

We thus declare our opposition to the restrictions placed upon Al-Amin and call on the Georgia Department of Corrections and Federal Bureau of Prisons to allow scholarly and media interviews and communication with Al-Amin. We will make the reasons for our consternation known to our own elected representatives and the public at large.

 

H Rap Brown Jamil Al-Amin

Academic supporters

  • Isra Ali
    Clinical Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
  • Gianpaolo Baiocchi
    Associate Professor of Sociology, New York University
  • Abbas Barzegar
    Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Georgia State University
  • Dan Berger
    Associate Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies, University of Washington Bothell
  • Khaled Beydoun
    Associate Professor of Law, University of Detroit Mercy
  • Simone Browne
    Associate Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies, University of Texas at Austin
  • Jordan T. Camp
    Term Assistant Professor of American Studies, Barnard College
  • Paula Chakravartty
    Associate Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
  • Emilye Crosby
    Professor of History, Geneseo State University of New York
  • Nick Estes
    American Democracy Fellow, Harvard University
  • Toral Gajarawala
    Associate Professor Of English, New York University
  • Zareena Grewal
    Associate Professor of American Studies, Religious Studies, Ethnicity, Race & Migration, Yale University
  • Christina Heatherton
    Assistant Professor of American Studies, Barnard College
  • Ramzi Kassem
    Professor, CUNY School of Law
  • Robin D. G. Kelley
    Professor of History, UCLA
  • Deepa Kumar
    Associate Professor of Media Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers University
  • Arun Kundnani
    Visiting Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
  • Marisol LeBron
    Assistant Professor of American Studies, Dickinson College
  • Peter B. Levy
    Professor, York College
  • Nicholas Mirzoeff
    Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
  • Michael Ralph
    Associate Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
  • Conor Tomás Reed
    Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Dylan Rodriguez
    Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, University of California, Riverside
  • David R. Roediger
    Foundation Professor of American Studies, University of Kansas
  • Andrew Ross
    Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis, New York University
  • Micol Seigel
    Associate Professor of American Studies and History, Indiana University, Bloomington
  • George Shulman
    Professor, Gallatin School, New York University
  • Robyn C. Spencer
    Associate Professor of History, Lehman College
  • Helga Tawil-Souri
    Associate Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication, and Middle East and Islamic Studies, New York University
  • Jeanne Theoharis
    Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College
  • Akinyele K. Umoja
    Professor of African-American Studies, Georgia State University
  • Komozi Woodard
    Professor of History, Sarah Lawrence College
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For more information on the campaign to support Jamil Al-Amin, contact the Imam Jamil Action Network. For more information on this letter, contact Arun Kundnani.
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    Atlanta, USA
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    Professor, University of California
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    Lecturer in International Relations, SOAS University of London
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    New Jim Crow Movement
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    London, United Kingdom
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    Executive Director, Kentucky Center for African American Heritage
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    Professor of Sociology, Simmons College
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    Ph.D. Candidate, Yale University
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    Imam, The Propagation Congregation
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    PhD Candidate African and African Diaspora Studies University of Texas
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    Director, Freedom Archives
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    PhD Student; University of Georgia
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    Filmmaker/Adjunct Professor CUNY LaGuardia
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    Senior lecturer, Northumbria University
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    Lecturer in Criminology, Swansea University
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    Undergraduate student, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
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    York, USA
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    Associate Professor, The Johns Hopkins University
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    Professor of Sociology & Africana Studies, Binghamton University
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    Lecturer in Law at the University of Birmingham
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    Assistant Professor of History, Dickinson College
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    Assistant Professor of Afro-American Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
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    Goldsmiths College, University of London
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    Student (post colonial studies)
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    Professor Emeritus Criminal Justice Rutgers University
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    Professor, Binghamton University
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    Associate Dean and Professor, Howard University School of Law
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    Associate Professor, American Studies
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    Associate Professor, University of California, Davis
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    Associate Professor of Sociology at Morehouse College
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    KINGS PARK, USA
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    Assistant Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh
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    Assistant Professor of Sociology, Kentucky State University
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    Cinematographer and Adjunct Professor, NYU Graduate Film
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    Assistant Professor of Sociology and Latina/o Studies, Northwestern University
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    PhD Graduate Student, Department Of Sociology, Binghamton University (SUNY)
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    Attorney
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    Study counseler
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    Visiting Lecturer, Riphah Institute of Media Sciences
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    Dean, American Institute of Human Rights
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    Islamic Online University/Director of U.S.Operations
  • Nagham El Karhili
    Presidential fellow
  • Nathaniel Mathews
    Assistant Professor of Africana Studies, Binghamton University
  • Nishani Frazier
    Associate Professor of History, Miami University of Ohio
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    Retired, Adjunct Faculty, Kendall College, Evanston IL
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    Islam
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    retired professor, Howard University Department of Theatre Arts
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    Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University
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    Nation Time Judicial Research Inc. Research Specialist
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    Facilitator, Arabic and Islamic Studies
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    Retired Math & Black History Professor
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    Senior Researcher
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    CIoL SMC
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    Adjunct History Professor, Cuyahoga Community College
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    Clinical Psychologist, Retired Asst Prof John Jay College
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    PhD candidate, University of California, Davis
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    Assistant Professor, Winston-Salem State University
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    Washington, DC, USA
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    Dean African American Studies Ohio University (retired)
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    PhD Student, University of Minnesota
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    Lecturer, Queens College CUNY
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    Assoc Prof, Princeton University
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    Professor, Binghamton University
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    Associate Professor, Indiana University Kokomo

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    Founder, Women In Islam Inc , New York, USA
  • Khalid Griggs
    Imam,Vice-President Civic Engagement ICNA, Winston-Salem , USA
  • A. Yusuf ELFAKHRI
    1 Ummah , Richmond , USA
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    Virginia, USA
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    Inside outside alliance organization, DURHAM, USA
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    Islamic Studies Instructor Masjid Waritheen, Oakland,CA, USA
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    Richmond, USA
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    Educator, Oakland, USA
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    Chaplain for Muslim Life, DePaul University, Chicago, USA
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    TECH/MUSLIM, PHILADELPHIA, USA
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    PhD Consultant, Writer, Oakland, USA
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    Researcher Al-Ummah, Atlanta, GA, USA
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    USA
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    Editor/Publisher, Brooklyn , USA
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    Student, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
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    NYC Jericho Movement, New York, USA
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    Program Associate-Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, USA
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    Executive Director Oppressed Peoples Online Word, Conley. Ga., USA
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    Program Director AFSC Prison Watch, Kenilworth, USA
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    Davenport , USA
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    Brooklyn, USA
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    RN, atlanta, USA
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    Muslim Clergy, Hempstead, NY, USA
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    Co-Founder of Eastern Shore Network for Change, Cambridge , USA
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    AMERICAN INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS, Hull, USA
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    Indianapolis, USA
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    Justice Initiative, Atlanta, USA
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    Community Masjid Of Atlanta, Atlanta, USA
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    Principal of Columbia Islamic School, Columbia, USA
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