A memorial ride, service, and celebration of life will be held Saturday in honor of Umar Muhammad, a Durham activist who was killed in a motorcycle accident on July 17.
Muhammad, who had been a community organizer for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, fought for the rights of the formerly incarcerated. He had recently joined Forward Justice as a lead community organizer and campaign strategist. The thirty-year-old raised twin boys and had a two-month-old daughter.
“Umar connected movements and grassroots groups across the country,” Forward Justice said in a statement. “He brought to every space a transformative vision for racial justice that was grounded in his own experiences with the criminal justice system. The outpouring of love and grief from the people Umar profoundly touched through his organizing, his work with young people and schools, and his advocacy at community and city council meetings, all make clear that his loss will be deeply felt both in Durham and nationally.
The service will be held from three to six p.m. Saturday at Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville Street in Durham, and will include prayers and tributes to Muhammad.
A charity ride, organized by Kurve Assassinz Motorcycle Club, will take place before the service. To participate, meet in the Harbor Freight parking lot, 2000 Avondale Drive in Durham, at one thirty p.m. A celebration of life will be held from ten p.m. to two a.m. at Emerald City Ultra Bar & Lounge, 2000 Chapel Hill Road in Durham.
An online fundraiser has been set up to raise money for Muhammad’s daughter, Ella Assata. Money raised will be held in an account for educational expenses.
“Umar Muhammad worked so hard for us. He loved these Bull City streets and his people,” says Nia Wilson, director of SpiritHouse. “He was a light for so many people, believing in all of us in ways no one else would and showing the way out of the shadows.”
Muhammad was released from prison in 2012 and began working to combat discrimination against people who have been incarcerated. He worked with the Clean Slate Project, an expungement clinic, and was an advocate for the “ban the box” movement to have questions about criminal history removed from employment applications.
“When I first met Umar I saw so much of myself after incarceration,” says Daryl Atkinson, codirector of Forward Justice, in a statement. “The two us shared the common experience of being locked away in a cage in our early adulthood and all the pain that comes with that. Over the years, since my release I was able to find my way and I sought to share with Umar everything I had learned. He was a willing and able student and became so much more to me personally, professionally, and to the movement as a whole. He was the embodiment of our next generation of leadership and his spirit lives on with all of us.”