Assata Shakur

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Assata Olugbala Shakur (born July 16, 1947[1] as JoAnne Deborah Byron) is an African-American activist. She was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. She was put into prison, but in 1984 she managed to escape. She now lives in Havana, Cuba, as a fugitive. She was the first woman to be put on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list. Shakur is the step-aunt of Tupac Shakur, a rapper who was assassinated in 1996.

Early life[change | change source]

Shakur was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York City. She lived there for three years. She then moved to North Carolina with her grandparents. Shakur was arrested for the first time in 1967 for trespassing during a protest.

Activism[change | change source]

In 1971, Shakur joined the Republic of New Afrika and the Black Liberation Army. She chose the name Assata Olugbala Shakur because she felt that her English name was a "slave name." She wrote in her book, "It sounded so strange when people called me Joanne. It really had nothing to do with me. I didn’t feel like no Joanne, or no negro, or no amerikan. I felt like an African woman".[2]

Assata is a West African name from the Arabic name Aisha, which means "she who struggles." Olugbala is from Yoruba and means "savior."[3] Shakur means "thankful one" in Arabic.

Arrests and trials[change | change source]

On April 6, 1971, Shakur was shot in the stomach. She was charged with attempted robbery, felonious assault, reckless endangerment, and possession of a deadly weapon, then released on bail. Between 1973 and 1977 Shakur was charged with two bank robberies, the kidnapping of a Brooklyn heroin dealer, and attempted murder of two Queens police officers. She was put in prison in 1973. On November 2, 1979 she escaped the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey.

Political asylum in Cuba[change | change source]

In 1984, the Cuban government granted political asylum to Shakur. Her daughter Kakuya came to live with her in 1985.

Shakur wrote in a letter that Cuba was "one of the largest, most resistant and most courageous Palenques (Maroon Camps) that has ever existed on the face of this planet".[4]

References[change | change source]

  1. "FBI - Wanted:Assata Shakur". FBI. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  2. Shakur, Assata. Assata - an autobiography. London: Zed, 2014. Print.
  3. Van Deburg; William L. (1997). Modern Black Nationalism: From Marcus Garvey to Louis Farrakhan. NYU Press. p. 269. ISBN 0-8147-8789-4. As early as 1973, Shakur referred to Joanne Chesimard as her "slave name".
  4. "An open letter from Assata Shakur: 'I am a 20th century escaped slave'". Worker's World. Retrieved 28 December 2020.