Assata Olugbala Shakur was born JoAnne Deborah Byron on July 16, 1947, in Jamaica, New York. a descendent of slaves. Adopting an African name, she took on Assata, meaning 'she who struggles,' Olugbala, meaning 'love for the people,' and Shakur, meaning 'the thankful.' The first woman to be placed on the FBI's Most wanted Terrorist list, Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party and Black liberation Army in the late 1960' and 1970s.In the early 1970', several false criminal accusuations for murder, robbery and kidnapping were bought against Shakur. All except one were later acquiitted or dismissed. In 1973, Shakur and two other friends were cornered by state troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike, and became involved in a shootout where she was severely wounded, apprehended and charged for the murder of Werner Foerster, a New Jersey State Trooper. Although Shakur protested her innocence, and subsequent medical and forencic evidence indeed proved it was not possible for her to have shot the state trooper, she was however convicted of the murder. She was incarcenated in several prisons throughout the 1970' until she managed a daring in 1979, and has managed to live in exile in Cuba since 1984.She is recognised by the Cuban Government as a revolutinary fugitive in exile, at once venerated by supporters, the Cuban Government continue to contribute to her living expenses, and is regarded as an icon by many others, as a living link to a revolutionary era.
The FBI's animalistic hunting of her resumed after nearly 40 years when it labelled her a terrorist, offering $2 million for her capture, still reminding the world, and becomming a symbol of America;s gaping racial divide, reminding us that the oppresion of Black women by America is far from over and to many the world over she continues to remain an inspiration to all lovers of freedom, as a courageous fighter, liberator and hero, and is defended by many who do not want to see her returning to a prison cell.
She has since continued to dedicate her life to challenging injustic, advocating on behalf of those persecuted using her skills as a writer, artist and poet. In 1987 she published a powerful memorable book 'Assata Shakur - An Autobiography' where she outlines her beliefs, and the book contains many of her poems, two of which I include here. In this book she also writes from a perspective whose life continues to be on trial.
Long may Sister Assata Olubala Shaker retain her freedom and we carry on breaking down the chains.
Affirmation - Assata Shakur
I believe in living
Ibelieve in the spectrum
of Beta days and Gamma people.
I believe in sunshine
windmills and waterfalls,
tricycles and rocking chairs.
And I believe that seeds grow into sprouts.
And sprouts grow into trees.
I believe in the magic of the hands.
And in the wisdom of the eyes.
I believe in rain and tears.
And in the blood of infinity.
I belive in life.
And I have seen the death parade
march through the torso of the earth,
sculpting mud bodies in its path.
I have seen the destruction of the daylight,
and seen bloodthirsty maggots
prayed to and saluted.
I have seen the kind become the blind
in one every lesson.
I have walked on cut glass.
I have eaten crow and blunder bread
and breathed the stench of indifference.
I have been locked by the lawless.
Handcuffed by the haters.
Gagged by the greedy.
And, If I know any thing at all,
it's that a wall is just a wall
and nothing more at all,
it can be broken down.
I believe in living
I believe in birth
I believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.
And I believe that a lost ship,
sneered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided home
Love is Contraband in Hell - Assata Shaker
Love is contraband in Hell,
cause love is a acid
that eats away bars. But you, me, and tomorrow
holds hands and makes vows
that struggle will multiply.
The hacksaw has two blades.
The shotgun has two barrels.
We are pregnant with freedom.
We are a conspiracy.
It is our duty to fight for our freedom
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.
Reprinted from :-
Assata An Autobiography (1987/2001)
Here is a link to a campaign that continues to support and defend her:-
Assata Shaker in her own words