Barbara Jean Hope, activist and writer, 59

Barbara Jean Hope died April 8 in Philadelphia after an intense battle with cancer. She was 59.

Hope was a mother, grandmother, writer, editor, talk radio ideologist, peace activist, teacher and voice against oppression. When news of her passing reached Philadelphia’s talk radio airwaves, listeners called in to pay tribute to “Sister Barbara,” as she was widely known.

Hope used her voice and her pen to share her knowledge with others. She used her understanding of Marxism-Leninism to explain politics and raise working-class consciousness. She spoke out courageously as an open communist.

She struggled with a speech impediment but never let it prevent her from telling the truth. Her soft-spoken, straightforward and considerate manner won her wide respect.

Hope wrote many articles for the People’s Weekly World newspaper, including several about imprisoned journalist Mumia Abu Jamal, the right-wing threat to voting rights, and the human costs of war. She exposed the lies, brutality and racism of the Bush administration. She served on the editorial board of Political Affairs magazine, and was also published in the Philadelphia Inquirer and other publications.

Barbara Jean Hope was born on Feb. 16, 1946, in Cincinnati. Her parents became devout Muslims and changed her name to Hasana Ahmad. Her father, Lynn Hope, was a renowned jazz saxophonist and bandleader. The entire extended family moved to Egypt in 1955 to escape U.S. racism.

The Hope family later returned to Ohio, where Barbara Jean finished high school. She attended the University of Cincinnati until 1966, when her mother died suddenly. The family then moved to Philadelphia, her father’s hometown.

Hope married the late Robert David Mott, a guitarist in her father’s band, and they had two daughters, Jana and Lena. She first worked as a secretary, then as a proofreader and copy editor.

Family, friends and comrades gathered in her memory on April 10, and a Janazah (funeral) prayer service took place on April 11.