Bob Marley Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, November 1979

I have a gem for you guys this week.  In November 1979, Bob Marley and the Wailers toured North America in support of the Survival album, an album with an outwardly militant theme that explored issues such as black nationalism, repatriation, and Pan-African solidarity.  According to many sources, Survival was originally to be called Black Survival to underscore the urgency of African unity, but the name was shortened to prevent misinterpretations of the album’s theme.  Marley envisioned the album as the first in a trilogy, followed by Uprising in 1980 and Confrontation in 1983.

The tour started in Boston in the latter part of October 1979, and ended in Libreville, Gabon on January 6, 1980. During 1979, which was the International Year of the Child, the band made appearances at a few benefit concerts for children, as was the case on August 10, 1979, in Jamaica, prior to the Survival Tour, and on December 15, 1979 in Nassau, Bahamas. The tour mainly took place in the United States, but also included performances in the Caribbean and in Africa.

In the early part of the North American leg of the tour, Bob Marley and the Wailers  visited Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where they played The Spectrum on November 7, 1979.  While in Philadelphia, Bob was interviewed by an award-winning local journalist named Mumia Abu-Jamal at the Warwick Hotel.  The interview is presented here.

Bob Marley Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, November 1979

Bob Marley

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Abu-Jamal was later convicted of the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner and sentenced to death. He has been described as “perhaps the world’s best known death-row inmate”, and his sentence is one of the most debated today.  On December 7, 2011, Philadelphia District Attorney R. Seth Williams announced that prosecutors would no longer seek the death penalty for Abu-Jamal.  Williams said that Abu-Jamal will spend the rest of his life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A written transcript of the interview can be viewed here.

Give thanks to Roger Steffens for checking all historical and factual references.

21 thoughts on “Bob Marley Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, November 1979

  1. Thanks & Praise for the timely sharing of this interview! Well done by Mumia. This is a gem, sistah! Makes me think about how Bob’s music was dealing with more revolutionary themes & issues, & so was Mumia. This was just too powerful a threat to Babylon, so they had to try to shut them down. But Bob’s music & influence is as strong as ever, & so is Mumia’s. Power to the People!

  2. Pingback: Bob Marley Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, November 1979 | A World of Reggae

  3. Pingback: Bob Marley Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal, November 1979 | A World of Reggae

  4. I an I do not know who you guys are, but this blog site is by far the hardest Reggae blog site that I’ve ever encountered. How, in the name of the Almighty, did you manage to Obtain this rare & hard to find gem? This interview, I was told, had been locked away in the vaults of WDAS radio station. A radio station that rarely, if ever, Played any reggae music. Plus, every log entry, comes with a great story that adds to the excitement. When I’m on your cite, I feel like a little kid in a bakery shop. Give thanks & praise for The Idren’s works & labor Of love. Jah bless, guide & protect the I.

  5. Correction: I was so enthusiatic when I read that you were posting the entire Mumia Abu Jamal & Bob Marley interview from the Warick Hotel in Philadelphia. I though that it was too good to be true. Well it is. I immediatley sent a comment without first listening to the audio. This not the complete interview or audio. In fact, it’s not even one tenth of the actual interview. This is a snippet of the actual interview. The actual interview is over 2 hours long. In the interview, its said that Bob Marley pounds his bible on the nite stand to make an important point. If possible can you please post the entire audio interview? It is in the WDAS radio archives, collecting dust. WDAS does not play reggae music, let alone a Bob Marley interview from 1979.

    Give thanks.

  6. Respect! Many thanks for sharing this excerpt. Dub Tafari is correct that WDAS was not known for playing any reggae then or now (I’m from Philadelphia also) still I (& I) give them salute for having the Honorable MumiaAbu-Jamal conduct this important convesation between two titans of equal rights and justice. I don’t recall any reggae on the radio then but I do remember Clapton’s version of “I Shot the Sherriff” being broadcast though I’m not sure what stations.

    I do hope that at some point this entire important document will be released to the public. It is of significant need in these dayds & times.

    Shouts to the creators of this blog, the Anderson family and old WDAS & WHAT-AM staff, the Honorable Mumia Abu-Jamal and Robert Nesta Marley and all righteous people.

    Peace and Power.

  7. A full transcript of this interview is included in the booklet:

    5.0 out of 5 stars Without Apology: Reggae Free Mumia, November 9, 2011

    By R.B. Wilk – See all my reviews
    Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)
    This review is from: Reggae Free Mumia (Audio CD)

    “I love this CD! Great music and excellent message! Mumia Abu-Jamal is NOT a murderer but a brilliant journalist who was targeted by the Philadelphia Police Department for reporting on police brutality, and was railroaded to a murder conviction for SURVIVING a police officer’s attempt to murder him. It’s too late to save Bob Marley but we can honor Marley’s memory by freeing Mumia!Reggae Free Mumia”

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