'How We Stay Free: Notes on a Black Uprising' Co-Edited by Fajr Muhammad '19 Coming in 2022

BY Nicole Saldarriaga, June 9, 2021

In response to the murder of George Floyd and the national protests that followed, alumna Fajr Muhammad '19 co-edited a collection of work, How We Stay Free: Notes on a Black Uprising, along with Christopher R. Rogers and Paul Robeson House. The collection will be released in February of 2022 by Common Notions and is available for preorder here


The reflections, testimonies, prose, and poetry in How We Stay Free were collected from the protestors and Black organizers that took to the streets of Philadelphia after Floyd's murder. These Philadelphians established "mutual aid campaigns, jail support networks, bail funds, and housing encampments for their community...called for the release of all political prisoners including Mumia Abu-Jamal, and protested, marched, and agitated in all corners of the city." 


How We Stay Free is both a celebration of the people and energy that sustained this uprising and a challenge to continue organizing our communities, to keep revolting for a better world, and to keep the movement against racist policing going by understanding where and how it started. 


According to Muhammad, "How We Stay Free is an anthology project from the Paul Robeson House & Museum, The West Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and funded by Philadelphia’s Independence Media Community Voices Fund. It began as an idea to document the actions, lived experiences and stories of Black Philadelphians as they dealt with an unprecedented summer and 2020. As global uprisings against police violence erupted in Philadelphia, we saw localized protests as well as long-time activists and organizations springing forward to meet this moment and work to continue the aims of Black liberation. To us, these aims are not new and stand in a long line of Black radicalism and resistance across the world and in Philadelphia proper. 

Myself and Chris Rogers, Program Director for the Robeson House, opened the call for contributors to tell their stories and strategies of resistance in their own words. The anthology is truly a collective effort, bringing together activists, organizers, writers and artists responding to the uprisings in their own medium and tenor. To kick off the project, the Robeson House hosted open hours, where we worked with potential contributors on ideas, held space and dialogue about Black resistance and what the future and next step in this fight can and will be for Black Philadelphia.” 


How We Stay Free: Notes on a Black Uprising anthology features essays, poetry, photography, original artwork and conversations. There will also be a complementing website howwestayfree.com, showcasing videos, audio and prose that weren’t included in the book.


Fajr Muhammad is a writer and editor. Her work has been awarded fellowships with the Tin House Writers' Workshop, Rhode Island Writers' Colony and the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Columbia University.