Local News

Community remembers Durham activist killed in motorcycle crash as a fighter

Posted August 5

— Family and friends gathered Saturday in Durham to celebrate the life of a community activist killed in a motorcycle crash.

Umar Muhammad’s impact was more far reaching than he likely ever realized. Those who knew him said he had not even scratched the surface of what he was capable of doing in his community.

Muhammad died last month after the motorcycle he was riding crashed into the front corner of a Cadillac driven by Rodney McLaurin.

Friends, family, Durham community members and city leaders attended the Saturday afternoon ceremony to celebrate Muhammad’s life.

Muhammad was a community organizer with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice before he left in June to work as a lead campaign strategist and organizer for Forward Justice. He reached many by sharing his story of redemption after life in prison.

"Umar connected movements and grassroots groups across the country. He brought to every space a transformative vision for racial justice that was grounded in his own experiences with the criminal justice system," said a statement from Forward Justice.

Family members said Muhammad was often a prominent voice at city meetings about issues such as policing and they want him to be remembered as a fighter for his community.

“I don’t think all of Durham would come together like this to celebrate someone’s life if that person didn’t have such a significant impact and I think that is due to his commitment to cultivate relationships with all different kinds of people,” said family member Hadiyah Muhammad.

All who attended Saturday’s memorial vowed to continue Muhammad’s work in the community, especially for his infant daughter.

"He would want us to continue his work. All of us or none, he would want us to create that community for Ella," Hadiyah Muhammad said. "He loved on everyone from all walks of life, so I just think that should continue on."

McLaurin was charged with death by vehicle, failure to yield right of way and driving with a revoked license in connection with the crash. He was also served with an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor possession of a schedule III controlled substance.

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