Imprisoned former death-row inmate addresses grads

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Mumia Abu Jamal - Goddard commencement
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Imprisoned former death-row inmate addresses grads
248921 02: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, seen here in a December 13, 1995 photo from prison, was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Philadelphia policeman. Police in Washington D.C. arrested dozens of Abu-Jamal supporters February 28, 2000, who were demanding a new trial for Abu Jamal, and the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. (Photo by Lisa Terry
Protestors w. signs supporting reporter Mumia Abu-Jamal who is sentenced to die for 1981 murder of policeman Daniel Faulkner. (Photo by Andrew Lichtenstein/Image Works/Image Works/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
TODAY -- Pictured: (l-r) Conservative radio host Michael Smerconish and Maureen Faulkner, whose husband Mumia Abu-Jamal is convicted of having murdered in 1982, talks about the new book, 'Murdered By Mumia' on NBC News' Today on December 6, 2007 -- Photo by: Heidi Gutman/NBCU Photo Bank
PHILADELPHIA - MAY 17: A counter protester holds a handbill in rememberance of slain police officer Daniel Faulkner at a rally for Faulker's convicted murderer, death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the Federal Court building May 17, 2007 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The rally was held as a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit heard legal arguments on whether Abu-Jamal's death sentence should be upheld, or whether he should get a new trial or a new sentencing hearing. Abu-Jamal was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death for the slaying of Faulkner 25 years ago. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
A protestor stands next to an image of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
N 248921 03: ***EXCLUSIVE*** Pennsylvania death row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, seen here in a December 13, 1995 photo from prison, was convicted in 1982 of murdering a Philadelphia policeman. Police in Washington D.C. arrested dozens of Abu-Jamal supporters February 28, 2000, who were demanding a new trial for Abu Jamal, and the abolition of the death penalty in the United States. (Photo by Lisa Terry / Liaison Agency)
Protestors stand before an image of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO /Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors hold posters for Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors stand before an image of Mumia Abu-Jamal outside the US Department of Justice on April 24, 2012 in Washington, DC, calling for the release from prison of the ex-Black Panther militant, who was convicted for the killing of a white police officer in 1981 and sentenced to death. In December 2011 prosecutors gave up their effort to execute Abu-Jamal, who supporters believe is innocent and was framed for the murder in the racially charged case. Supporters decided to hold their demonstration on April 24, 2012, Abu-Jamal's 58th birthday. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Several people hold a protest calling for a new trial for US human rights campaigner Mumia Abu-Jamal on April 02, 2008 in Paris. A US federal appeals court overturned last March, 27 the death sentence passed against Abu-Jamal, while upholding his conviction for the murder of a police officer. AFP PHOTO PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 9: Supporters of death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal rally outside City Hall December 9, 2006 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The rally marked the 25th anniversary of the night Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was fatally shot. Abu-Jamal was later convicted of first degree murder for Faulkner's slaying. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)
398354 06: Frank Calderon of Bronx, N.Y., chants 'FREE MUMIA!' at a demonstration in support of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal December 8, 2001 in Philadelphia. Abu-Jamal was convicted in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia Police officer Daniel Faulkner. (Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, UNITED STATES: A construction worker on scaffolding on Philadelphia City Hall, stands next to a banner calling for the execution of convicted police killer Mumia Abu Jamal across the street from a rally outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA on 17 August 2001. Jamal's lawyers were in court for a status hearing asking to suspend his federal appeal while they try to mount a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts. AFP PHOTO/TOM MIHALEK (Photo credit should read TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, UNITED STATES: A man holding a Palestinian flag and a sign stands with other supporters of convicted police killer Mumia Abu Jamal at a rally outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA on 17 August 2001. Jamal's lawyers were in court for a status hearing asking to suspend his federal appeal while they try to mount a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts. AFP PHOTO/TOM MIHALEK (Photo credit should read TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, UNITED STATES: Philadelphia Police officers use their bicycles to form a line in front of several hundred supporters of convicted police killer Mumia Abu Jamal at a rally outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia, PA on 17 August 2001. Jamal's lawyers were in court for a status hearing asking to suspend his federal appeal while they try to mount a new legal challenge in the Pennsylvania courts. AFP PHOTO/TOM MIHALEK (Photo credit should read TOM MIHALEK/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Demostrators supporting death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal march 13 August 2000 through the streets of downtown Los Angeles near the Staples Center, site of the Democratic National Convention. The four-day convention begins 14 August. AFP PHOTO/Scott NELSON (Photo credit should read Scott Nelson/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, UNITED STATES: Demostrators supporting death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal march through the streets of downtown Los Angeles, California, 13 August 2000 near the Staples Center, site of the Democratic National Convention. The convention begins 14 August and runs for four days. The sign reads, 'Work and School, Yes! Prisons, No! AFP PHOTO/Scott NELSON (Photo credit should read Scott Nelson/AFP/Getty Images)
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PLAINFIELD, Vt. (AP) - A one-time death row inmate now serving a life sentence for the 1981 murder of a Philadelphia police officer spoke to students graduating from a Vermont college on Sunday, encouraging them to strive to transform the world.

Mumia Abu-Jamal spoke by video to 20 students receiving bachelor degrees from Goddard College in Plainfield. He earned a degree from the college in 1996.

"Think about the myriad of problems that beset this land and strive to make it better," Abu-Jamal said in the video.

He said his studies at Goddard allowed him to learn about important figures in distant lands.

"Goddard reawakened in me my love of learning," he said. "In my mind, I left death row."

The former Black Panther did not address the crime for which he was convicted. He originally was sentenced to death for killing white police Officer Daniel Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981, but he was resentenced to life in 2012.

His claims that he's been victimized by a racist justice system have attracted international support. A radio show, documentaries and books have helped publicize his case. Goddard College describes him as "an award winning journalist who chronicles the human condition."

But the decision to allow Abu-Jamal to speak angered police and corrections officials in Vermont and Pennsylvania. The Vermont Troopers Association said it showed a disregard for the victim's family at a time when the nation is seeking solutions to gun violence.

Goddard, a low-residency school where students, staff and faculty spend eight days on campus twice a year, holds 20 commencement ceremonies every year, so students in each degree program can individualize their graduations and choose their speaker.

The school, which has about 600 students, says the graduates chose Abu-Jamal as a way to "engage and think radically and critically."

Goddard students design their own curriculums with faculty advisers and do not take tests or receive grades.


Is Choosing Mumia Abu-Jamal As Commencement Speaker Appropriate?

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