Like most Black leaders and activists who call out and challenge America’s oppressive foundation, Assata Shakur had a target on her back. A literal one.
As a member of multiple organizations and movements, including the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, Shakur educated oppressed groups of their right to freedom while helping build stronger communities.
The FBI didn’t like that.
COINTELPRO had Shakur under close surveillance and placed her on their Most Wanted list for the more radical moves she made to push back against a system meant to keep us down and out.
Then, in 1973, the police pulled over Shakur and her companions. This encounter ended in shots fired, with her brother-in-law and two cops dead. It is unknown if Shakur fired the weapon that killed a police officer. Shakur herself was shot with her hands in the air.
A first-degree murder conviction soon followed, along with a life sentence. But in 1979 she made her iconic prison escape to Cuba, where she now lives in exile as a political prisoner.
In 2013, she was placed on the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list, criminalizing her political activism.
“I am a 20th century escaped slave,” Assata Shakur penned in a 1998 open letter. She is, and just as our ancestors defied and resisted an oppressive system, so too did Assata Shakur.
She’s not a killer nor a terrorist. She’s a leader fighting for the people’s freedom.