Democracy Now! January 15, 2003

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Democracy Now! January 15, 2003
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Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jan. 15, 1929 April 4, 1968: To celebrate his birthday, we hear King outline his opposition to war; Sarah Jones performs Waking The American Dream, about new immigrants experience in America; she also discusses The Exonerated, a play about innocent death row prisoners; Your Revolution Will Not Happen Between These Thighs : Sarah Jones vs. the FCC; From Death Row, Mumia speaks out on the death penalty & the broken system

9:00-9:01 Billboard 9:01-9:06 Headlines 9:06-9:07 One Minute Music Break 9:07-9:13: Today, January 15, is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. s birthday. He was born in 1929. He would be 74 years old today. Younger generations know Dr. King as the country's most prominent civil rights leader of all time. But King's opposition to the Vietnam War, and to U.S. foreign policy in general, has been erased from mainstream history. In his speech Pacem In Terris II, King spoke about his support for the movement against the Vietnam War. I criticize America because I love her and because I want to see her to stand as the moral example of the world, King said. War anywhere intensifies the possibility of war everywhere. When major world powers flaunt the authority of the United Nations and embark on unilateral courses of action they open the door to similar actions on the part of other nations. 9:13- 9:20: Death-penalty opponents are asking state officials around the country to follow the lead of outgoing Illinois Governor George Ryan, who recently commuted the death sentences of all 167 inmates on death row. The Republican governor was a longtime supporter of the death penalty. But he became convinced the system was broken when it emerged that thirteen people who had been sentenced to death were innocent. In Pennsylvania yesterday, the American Friends Service Committee urged Gov.-elect Ed Rendell to halt any executions of the state's 244 death-row inmates. Rendell said he is not likely to call for a death-penalty moratorium in Pennsylvania, but that he would review the issue. Critics say the death penalty is applied unfairly to Pennsylvania's African Americans. More than half of the state s 244 condemned inmates are black. Today we will hear from Pennsylvania s most famous death row inmate, Mumia Abu Jamal, speaking on Gov. Ryan s decision. Ryan has dealt a serious crippling blow to the state system of death and the inability of the dignitaries and officials of the system to cure the serious problems of the death penalty were shown in sharp and stark relief, Abu Jamal said. Abu Jamal has been on death row for 20 years after being convicted in 1982 of killing Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner. A journalist, Black Panther, MOVE member, and outspoken critic of police brutality, racism and the death penalty, Mumia Abu Jamal has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence. Over the last two decades, Abu Jamal has written regular commentaries on local, national and world affairs. This commentary was recorded on Sunday by Noelle Hanrahan of the Prison Radio Project. Tape: Mumia Abu Jamal, political prisoner and journalist on death row in Pennsylvania Link: Prison Radio Project: One Minute Music Break 9:21-9:50: Illinois Gov. George Ryan had been a supporter of the death penalty until it emerged that thirteen death row prisoners in his state were actually innocent. Well right now we re going to talk about the experiences of wrongfully convicted people. We re going to hear about a popular off-Broadway play called The Exonerated. A website for The Exonerated reads: Imagine everything you did between the years of 1976 and 1992. Now remove all of it. Those 16 years were taken away from Sunny Jacobs, convicted and sentenced to death for a crime she did not commit. But her story is not unique. And it could happen just as easily to you. The Exonerated tells the true stories of six innocent survivors of death row. Writers and directors Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen attended a conference on the death penalty at Columbia University, and decided to take action. They conducted months of research, interviewing 40 former death row prisoners who were eventually cleared, and their families. Based on the interviews, they wrote a play that tells the stories of six former death row inmates. The play has a rotating cast and has included Susan Sarandon, Richard Dreyfuss, Tim Robbins, Sarah Jones and others. Well today we re joined in our firehouse studio by actor, playwright and poet Sarah Jones. She is currently performing in The Exonerated in New York City. After winning the 1997 Grand Slam Championship at the famed Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Jones' career took off. Her solo show "Surface Transit" was the centerpiece of the first New York Hip Hop Theatre Festival and later won the Best One Person Show award at HBO's Aspen Comedy Arts Festival. Spike Lee cast her in his film, Bamboozled. She starred in the celebrated "Vagina Monologues" off-Broadway and in Los Angeles and was featured in PBS' award-winning "City Life" series. She also Jones recently wrote and performed her second solo show, "Women Can't Wait," at the United Nations for the International Conference on Women's Rights. Finally, she has just written a play called Waking the American Dream. In the monologue, she portrays twelve immigrants who describe their experiences in America through poetry and story-telling. As the crackdown on immigrants continues, with mass registration, arrests, and deportation, she will be performing parts of it for us here today. 9:50-9:51 One Minute Music Break 9:51-9:58: In addition to being a playwright, poet and actor, Sarah Jones is also suing the Federal Communications Commission and its chairman Michael Powell. She is challenging a ruling that one of her works is "indecent." The work is called Your Revolution and protests the degrading treatment of women in popular culture and particularly in hip hop. It is a loose reworking of Gil Scott-Heron's classic poem, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Guest: Sarah Jones, playwright, poet and actor Contact:, 9:58-9:59 Outro and Credits Democracy Now! is produced by Kris Abrams, Mike Burke, Angie Karran, Ana Nogiera and Alex Wolfe. Mike Di Filippo is our music maestro and engineer.

Date Recorded on: 
January 15, 2003
Date Broadcast on: 
January 15, 2003
Item duration: 
59 min.
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WBAI; Amy Goodman, host., January 15, 2003
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