This Former Black Panther Successfully Escaped Prison Twice

Enslaved people
Zain Murdock
October 5, 2021

In 1972, former Black Panther Harun Abdul Ra’uf, formerly known as Russell Shoatz, was accused of being involved in a 1970 attack on a Philadelphia police station and sentenced to life in prison. 

But he refused to accept that fate, and managed to escape – twice!

In 1977, he freed himself from prison and “lived off the land” for nearly a month without getting caught. When he was finally recaptured, it was a huge media event. But he held his head high and told the press: “Tell everyone that the slave has been caught, and I’m going back to the plantation.”

And that reputation is what earned him a nickname imbued with Black history.

Other incarcerated men started calling him “Maroon,” after enslaved Black Caribbeans and Americans who escaped from their plantations and lived on free settlements. 

And, like his new name, he escaped again in 1980, this time a three-day reprieve that ended in a shoot-out and, unfortunately, prison yet again – where he remains today.

But Maroon still comes from a long line of Black people who defied the system of slavery itself by escaping to communities of their own.

If today's slavery is the prison system, we can take a chapter from his book – and look to some of our enslaved ancestors for guidance on how they set themselves free!

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