The Classroom and the Cell, Conversations on Black Life in America.
By Mumia Abu-Jamal and Marc Lamont Hill
The Classroom and the Cell is a wonderfully edited book of conversations between one of the worlds most renowned Journalist and political prisoner, Mumia Abu Jamal, and one of Hip Hop’s most articulate public intellectuals, Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. The work is edited by a great writer, poet and activist in her own right, Asha Bandele.
Reading The Classroom and the Cell made me feel as though I was in the room (or in this case, on the phone) while Mumia and Marc conversed about everything from Race, Hip Hop, Leadership, the Criminal “In-Justice” System, Education and Black Love.
These two prolific writers represent two very different generations of the Black Liberation Struggle, but conclude that the obstacles that stand in its way have remained consistent with very little change if any. The conversations read like a compare and contrast of the Black Power Movement and the Hip Hop Political Movement.
One of the many things we learn by sitting in on this conversation is that real liberation is first and foremost internal. By the time I turned the last page, I realized that although Mumia is behind bars and may possibly never walk the streets again, he is more free than most of us. He is free to say and write what he feels. Marc on the other hand reminds us that, as free men and women, we self-impose limitations on what he say and do out of fear of losing our jobs, being put out of school, evicted and even arrested. Yes we can walk the streets and think we are “free” but how free are we to really love, learn and live?
This book takes a critical look at those and other questions, while providing in-site that is often left out of the mainstream discourse. It is a must read for every Black youth, and for anyone that wonders what would come up in a conversation between two highly intellectual, revolutionary Black men living in America.