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Political Activist And Former Councilman Sala Udin Seeks Presidential Pardon

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
Former Freedom Rider and Pittsburgh City Councilman Sala Udin is appealing to President Obama for a pardon.

August 28, 1963--Sala Udin stood amongst the crowd in the sweltering August sun, waiting for Martin Luther King Jr. to take the podium at the March on Washington.  Little did he know that he would soon witness one of the most iconic speeches in the history of the United States.  King's 'I Have a Dream' speech instantly resonated with Udin. 

"That speech is what made me say, 'I want to join his army.  I want to be with him.'"  That, Udin says, is when he knew he become a Freedom Fighter at the height of the Civil Rights dispute. 

Aware of the dangers associated with being a Civil Rights Activist during this time period, Udin says he took steps to ensure his safety by traveling with a weapon.  On a trip from Mississippi to Pennsylvania, he was pulled over by a state trooper in Kentucky, charged with transporting a gun across state lines, and sentenced to five years in prison. After serving seven months, he was released on parole.

With a permanent scar on his record, he describes the charges as a cloud above his head and believes only a pardon from the President will clear it.  After going through the extensive process of applying for a Presidential pardon in 2012, Udin now waits for his request to be reviewed.

And if Obama declines his pardon request? 

"Fine," Udin said. "I'm okay.  My life is not teetering on the verge of this pardon decision." 

Needless to say, Udin plans to continue dedicating his life to the service of others, especially in his home neighborhood of the Hill District.

"With or without the pardon, I'll continue to do what I have been doing and feel very good about my life."

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