In celebration of Imam Jamil Al-Amin’s 75th birthday, and in recognition of almost two decades of imprisonment and the ongoing fight for his freedom, we are uplifting two recent works that highlight the work of Black Muslims in Prisoners’ Rights movements and Imam Jamil’s role as a political activist and religious leader. 

By Kamilah A. Pickett

On October 4, 2018, in a federal prison in Tuscon, Ariz., Imam Jamil Al-Amin (formerly known as H. Rap Brown) began his 75th revolution around the sun. For every iteration of his life, as a student leader, a targeted and tortured activist, a beloved Imam and as a political prisoner, he has been known as an unapologetic and fierce advocate for his community.  For me, he modeled Islamic liberation theology and how to navigate this world fearlessly as a Black Muslim. As one of the articles featured below notes, Imam Jamil “was someone who inspired others to act. He communicated political ideas in the language of the street.”

We are in a political moment that feels parallel to the struggles and activism of the 1960s. In August 2018, men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declared a nationwide strike in response to the riot in April 2018 at Lee Correctional Institution in South Carolina resulting with the death of seven people. State officials had reduced mental health and other programs aimed at rehabilitation and eliminated amenities and activities that allowed incarcerated individuals a sense of normalcy and humanity. The list of demands included improvements to conditions in prisons, an immediate end to prison slavery and the rescinding of the Prison Litigation Reform Act, allowing imprisoned individuals a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.

For every iteration of his life, as a student leader, a targeted and tortured activist, a beloved Imam and as a political prisoner, he has been known as an unapologetic and fierce advocate for his community.

Photo credit – Google Images

Writer Livia Gershon highlights the battles imprisoned Black Muslims fought and won and how those fights changed prisoners’ relationships with the legal system in “What the Prisoners’ Rights Movement Owes to the Black Muslims of the 1960s.”

Photo credit – Wikimedia Commons

Professor and author Akinyele Umoja and author Arun Kundnani discuss Imam Jamil as both political activist and religious leader in “Rethinking H. Rap Brown and Black Power.”

Photo credit – Marion S. Trikosko, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Happy belated birthday, Imam Jamil. May Allah (swt) increase your faith, count you among those who patiently persevere and are steadfast in this life and may you be rewarded with the best of the hereafter.

Free them all.


 Kamilah A. Pickett is Politics Editor for Sapelo Square and Education Co-Chair for the Believers Bail Out. Ms. Pickett holds a Master of Public Health degree from Morehouse School of Medicine and a juris doctor from Georgetown University Law Center. She has been a passionate advocate operating at the intersections of health and justice for more than a decade.

Kamilah Pickett

Posted by Kamilah Pickett

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