MTV has refused to air a Public Enemy video solely because it contains the lyric “Free Mumia Abu-Jamal”.
“MTV requested that Public Enemy remove the word “free” before Mumia Abu-Jamal, but the group refused the request. Chuck D explained the group’s stance to DaveyD.com, “Really it ain’t about playing the Public Enemy video. So be it. I do art and songs to provoke and not be a joke. It would’ve been simple as hell for them to rather say they didn’t like the video. But as a black man, it’s the nerve of them judging what’s acceptable coming out of blackface. If they think having a political viewpoint in music is irrelevant, it’s because they’ve taken the Nazi approach in censoring it themselves…I refuse to edit out the Mumia audio and visual, that’s crazy and they must be out of their f–king mind.”
Mumia, serving time for a murder many believe he did not commit, has, while in prison, become a passionate and determined spokesperson for progressive / radical causes. His writings, and attempts to free him, have attracted international attention.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. During the Clinton era, NPR had planned to air Mumia’s spoken editorials, and were stopped by direct political action from high in the federal government, creating quite a stir at the time.
And now MTV has censored a video solely because of a political lyric – something they have never done before and something they decline to comment on.