Assata: In her own words
My name is Assata (“she who struggles”) Shakur (“the thankful one”), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.
Assata Shakur has been living in Cuba since 1986, after escaping from prison where she was serving a life sentence imposed in a highly disputed trial. Assata was a Black Panther then a Black Liberation Army (BLA) leader in the early ’70s, so she was a target of the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation. Assata was captured in a shoot-out resulting from resistance to yet another “driving while black” police action in 1973 on the New Jersey State Turnpike. This time a State Trooper was killed. Zayd Shakur, traveling in the car with Assata, was also killed.The third person in the car, Sundiata Acoli, is still serving time over 20 years later and has recently been denied parole for another 20 years. According to one of Sundiata’ attorney, Joan P. Gibbs, “Assata, at the time of her arrest, was ‘wanted’ on federal and state charges in New York, all of which juries subsequently found her not guilty of or were dismissed.” “The idea of the Black Liberation Army emerged from conditions in Black communities: conditions of poverty, indecent housing, massive unemployment, poor medical care, and inferior education. The idea came about because Black people are not free or equal in this country. Because ninety percent of the men and women in this country’s prisons are Black and Third World. Because ten-year-old children are shot down in our streets. Because dope has saturated our communities, preying on the disillusionment and frustrations of our children. The concept of the BLA arose because of the political, social, and economic oppression of Black people in this country. And where there is oppression, there will be resistance. The BLA is part of that resistance movement. The Black Liberation Army stands for freedom and justice for all people.
Petitioning President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama: Remove Assata Shakur from the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” List