The Festival began humbly in 1999 as an international day of art and culture in support of political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal. The name and date “911” were chosen to call attention to the emergency status of Mumia’s impending execution and drew roughly 6,000 people to the Mission’s Dolores Park. In 2000, PTTP expanded; showing support for all prisoners on death row, and speaking out against the exponential growth of the prison industrial complex.
When the attacks of September 11th, 2001 occurred, the festival took on a new significance, serving both as a day of remembrance for the lives lost in the tragedy as well as a day in which Northern Californians called for and end to all bombing around the globe. The 2002 and 2003 events offered a space for healing and compassion for all the people killed or displaced by terrorism and the war on terrorism. By this time, the festival had outgrown Dolores Park, and was resituated in the lush mile acre of Speedway Meadows in Golden Gate Park, with over 20,000 people attending. In 2004 the festival was themed "Stand up and be Counted", encouraging people to get out and vote. Last year's festival, themed "Bring 'Em Home" emphasized that the best way to support our troops is to bring them home now and drew upwards of 50,000 attendees participating in a day of music, art and social justice.