Being labeled a national terrorist and threat to society, Assata Shakur has been exiled since 1979. She was a freedom fighter at a very young age, joining the revolutionary Black Panther movement. In 1973, she was arrested and accused of murdering a New Jersey state officer. After her arrest, she was also accused of several other incidents including, armed robbery, kidnapping and attempted murder. Assata Shakur was convicted of all charges and spent 6 years in a maximum security prison under brutal circumstances.
Following her 6-year stint, the civil rights activist escaped the facility and fled to Cuba where she has stayed since. With a $2 million award out for her arrest, Shakur has been named a “national terrorist,” but amongst her followers and believers—she has become a hero. Happy birthday Assata Olugbala Shakur.
In honor of her 68th year, check out 10 facts about the human rights activist on the following pages.
An Open letter written by Assata:
My name is Assata Olugbala Shakur, 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.
Photo Credit(s): Democracynow.org & atlantablackstar.com