PHILADELPHIA—Wadiya Jamal was a devoted and determined advocate for justice, standing beside her husband, Mumia Abu Jamal, during his tireless fight as a political prisoner. Her passing leaves a palpable hole in the community. However, her Janazah (Islamic funeral service) held at the Kadijah Alderman Funeral Home on December 30 attended by hundreds, celebrated her loving life, and will serve as an anchor of hope to those she left behind.
Wadiya Jamal passed away unexpectedly on December 26 in Philadelphia after many years of vigor and support. In Mumia’s words, she was a loving and beautiful presence in his life. She stood with him through his trials and tribulations, providing a supportive shoulder for him to lean on until the very end.
Mumia Abu Jamal, after over 40 years of marriage to his beloved wife, was denied the right to attend her Janazah service by prison authorities—however, he was able to honor her memory with a prerecorded message.
“She was a force of nature who captivated all around her. Her vibrant beauty outshone even the most radiant stars in the sky, while her smile emanated warmth as bright and bold as sunlight itself. Unconquerable like a lioness, she lived life with unparalleled passion and strength,” Mr. Jamal said.
Her story was noted in an obituary that immortalized her legacy. Ms. Jamal challenged the standard American way of life, instead opting to embrace her African and Islamic roots. Her unyielding spirit, armed only with Philadelphia public school education, was remarkable as she forged a unique path for herself, one rooted in cultural identity rather than societal norms.
She tirelessly dedicated her life to activist efforts and was one of the most influential disruptors of her era. As a mother of five, she found personal fulfillment in raising and nurturing a loving family, but this only fueled her passion for fighting for what she believed would help ensure their future in an unjust society. Ms. Jamal consistently participated in events such as forums, rallies, and cultural activities meant to bring attention to injustices against Black people, making her a highly-respected figure througout the African Diaspora.
Mr. Jamal’s former attorney, New York-based Rachael Wolkenstein, told The Final Call, “Wadiya Jamal, a fierce warrior for Mumia after his arrest in 1981, has devoted her life to securing his freedom. She was one of the first advocates to challenge his conviction and demand his release when advocacy for his case began again around 1989-1990.”
Ms. Wolkensten characterized Ms. Jamal as a woman of immense strength and courage. “Ms. Jamal showed no hesitation in broadcasting her belief that Mumia was innocent (of the1981 murder of police officer Daniel Faulkner for which he was convicted) at public events attended by Dave Richardson—an act of defiance that could be said to have inaugurated many years of sustained activism,” she said. Dave Richardson, the late Pennsylvania state senator, advocated on behalf of Mr. Jamal.
“Her commitment continues even today and extends beyond herself to include her five children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren,” added Ms. Wolkenstein.
During an interview with The Final Call, Jamal ibn Mumia, the son of Mr. Jamal, spoke about his memories of Ms. Jamal. “Wadiya Jamal was an extraordinary woman whose influence permeated her family, community, and beyond. She personified the best of humanity, always willing to help fight for justice and equality for her people,” he said.
“For over four decades, she remained the pillar of strength for my father and many more. Her sage advice provided guidance in more ways than one. Not only did she teach us how to resist the oppressive systems of our society, but also to share love and warmth with those around us. Her unique blend of compassion and strength gave her such a remarkable spirit that will be remembered,” he said.
“She was a revolutionary force of change and compassion. In addition to supporting her family, she provided steadfast support for the people in her community, displaying an unwavering commitment that extended well beyond her immediate family,” he concluded.
Ms. Jamal was preceded in death by her beloved daughter Samiya, devoted parents, and three respected brothers. She leaves behind fond memories with her children Erik, Jade, Jaleel, and Atiya, and much-loved members of her extended family, including daughter-in-law Tyanisa; siblings Yusuf, Muhmina, Kevin, Sherry, Mark, Kyle, Charles and a host of grandchildren, great-grandchildren and extensive circle of loving nephew’s niece’s cousins and friends.