LYDIA ANN Barashango, a licensed practical nurse who became a social worker and educator for several Philadelphia agencies, died Sept. 28 after a lengthy illness. She was 64 and was living in West River, Md., but had previously lived in East Oak Lane.
Lydia was the sister of Mumia Abu-Jamal, who has been on death row since his conviction in the 1981 murder of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.
For many years, she was the leading family spokeswoman in efforts to win a new trial for Abu-Jamal, but in recent years, her health curtailed her activities, said her son, Vernon Wallace.
Lydia was a social worker at the Arise Academy Charter School, 11th and Market streets. She later served in nursing-related jobs and a variety of roles with COMHAR Inc., which works with handicapped children, adults and the elderly. She was site manager, nurse coordinator and director of case management. She also served as a charge nurse with the Tucker House Nursing Home.
Lydia was born in Philadelphia to Edith Cook and Hobart Crump. She graduated from William Penn High School and studied at the James Martin School of nursing.
She earned a bachelor's degree in human services from Antioch University, and received a master's degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work in 2010.
"Lydia's work within the community included caring for the elderly, those who could not care for themselves, and education children," said her son.
She was a member of the Army Reserves. She was president and coordinator of the Rites of Passage Program, which empowers young people, and national medical director of the Million Woman March, a protest demonstration in Philadelphia to empower black women, in 1997.
"Lydia was passionate about helping our children to prepare themselves for a successful future," her son said.
She was married to the late Rev. Ishakamusa Barashango. She also is survived by another son, Jabari Wallace; three other brothers, Keith, Wayne and Bill Cook; nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.