Since May 2, 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has classified her as a "domestic terrorist" and offered a $1 million reward for assistance in her capture. Attempts to extradite her have resulted in letters to the pope and a Congressional resolution.
Assata Shakur has been living in Cuba since 1986, after escaping from
prison where she was serving a life sentence imposed in a highly disputed trial. Assata
was a Black Panther then a Black Liberation Army (BLA) leader in the early '70s, so she
was a target of the FBI's COINTELPRO operation. Assata was captured in a shoot-out
resulting from resistance to yet another "driving while black" police action in
1973 on the New Jersey State Turnpike. This time a State Trooper was killed. Zayd
Shakur, traveling in the car with Assata, was also killed.
The third person in the car, Sundiata
Acoli, is still serving time over 30 years later and has recently been denied parole
for another 20 years. According to one of Sundiata' attorney, Joan P. Gibbs, "Assata,
at the time of her arrest, was 'wanted' on federal and state charges in New York, all of
which juries subsequently found her not guilty of or were dismissed."
As was later proved through medical forensics, Assata was wounded at the
time of her capture by a cowardly shot from the rear, while she had her
hands up. She was given a paraffin test, which failed to reveal any
gunpowder residue, meaning it would have been hard for her to have fired a
gun. While recovering from her
wounds, she was tortured at the hands of the State
Police Nazis (no hyperbole here, they were WWII Nazis brought to
America). She was convicted by an all white jury in
1977 and sentenced to life in prison. Before her daring escape from prison in 1979, Assata Shakur served a
total of six years behind bars where she would also give birth to her daughter
The following passage is excerpted from Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur and was
originally delivered by Assata Shakur as part of her opening statement while acting as
co-counsel in her own defense for charges stemming from the New Jersey Turnpike
"The idea of the Black Liberation Army
emerged from conditions in Black communities: conditions of poverty, indecent housing,
massive unemployment, poor medical care, and inferior education. The idea came about
because Black people are not free or equal in this country. Because ninety percent of the
men and women in this country's prisons are Black and Third World. Because ten-year-old
children are shot down in our streets. Because dope has saturated our communities, preying
on the disillusionment and frustrations of our children. The concept of the BLA arose
because of the political, social, and economic oppression of Black people in this country.
And where there is oppression, there will be resistance. The BLA is part of that
resistance movement. The Black Liberation Army stands for freedom and justice for all
Keith Murray, of Def Squad fame, has recently signed with Premier
Artist Group. He’s currently writing new material for his future album,
and is prepping for his "True Artistry" tour. Also he’s shopping a
reality TV show to networks. For any new Keith Murray fans, I suggest
checking his first two albums (Most Beautifullest Thing In This World
& Enigma). Be on the lookout for tour dates for the "True Artistry"
Montclair, N.J. - Rahfeal Gordon, youth entrepreneur and
motivational speaker, tells his audience, "If nobody ever says that
you’re brilliant, say it to yourself every day. Look yourself in the
mirror: if you have survived something, I don’t care how small, how
big, you’ve survived it,” he said.
Rahfeal Gordon’s motivational speech is simple: He tells the story
of his own life in three chapters. Each begins with a hip-hop lyric
that he knows will be meaningful to a young audience, like these
incoming freshmen at Montclair State University. Gordon says he uses
positive hip-hop lyrics to encourage youths, especially those who grew
in poverty and abuse, as he did. His talk is called "Hip Hop Saved My
"When I had my very dark moments in life, I would put on certain
songs, whether it be from Jay-Z, Tupac, Kanye West,” Gordon said. "They
kept me going through the hard times. They fulfilled a certain void
that I couldn’t fulfill, like not having a father or mother there, so I
felt they could relate because they would tell these stories.
You might see a tear, you might not. But just understand that where
I come from, it’s a long road,” he explains. "Some of us probably share
the same situations, but understand: you can make it, you will make it.
You’re here,” Gordon adds.
Gordon says his childhood was happy until his parents became
addicted to drugs and his father began to beat Gordon’s three brothers
and mother. They left to live on the streets and in homeless shelters.
Gordon says he tries now be a voice for others, including a brother who
was murdered at the age of 19.
"When I lost my brother, that was, really, a moment when things
really started to take off, in the sense of saying, ‘I really, really
want to be that individual to really help people, to help individuals,”
Gordon said. "I can’t be Superman. I can’t save the world, but I think
if I can help an individual, I am saving the world.’”
Gordon’s grandparents, Orreleen and Wyatt Warren, also helped him survive.
"I love my grandmother. She is like, if they say, ‘Who is your first
girlfriend?’ I say my grandmother!,” he said. "They say a village child
is an individual who is being raised by the entire community of people.
Those people are now investing into you, so that you can become this
village child, be a person who can hold a village on your back with
ease,” Gordon said. "And that’s who I was, and my grandmother was like
the mayor of the village.”
Rahfeal Gordon says he hopes to one day take his motivational
lecture to young people across the United States and in other
countries. Earlier this year, he was named social entrepreneur of the
year by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship. The
award recognizes youth businesses that aim to help communities.
"Woo! It’s four years I’ve been trying to get this award!” Gordon says as he accepts the award at the NFTE Awards Ceremony.
The political campaign of Sen. Barack Obama has inspired young
people to become involved in the American political process and many
artists are using their voices, dollars and influence as effective
instruments for political change, said hip hop experts, political
activists and policy analysts at the Democratic National Convention.
The forum titled "Hip Hop: Be the Change,” sponsored by the College
Democrats of America and moderated by author Bakari Kitwana, dealt with
the increasingly visible role of hip hop, its place in the 2008
election news and beyond. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, of Georgetown
University, said increased activism is a transformation of hip hop
culture’s "radical political potential.”
"It’s one thing to talk about it on a record, it’s another thing to
tag it in graffiti, it’s another thing to be involved in knowledge
distribution and wisdom accumulation that is characteristic of certain
forms of hip hop. But at the end of the day, the transition into the
pursuit of political power in a formal setting in parliamentary
politics is quite an interesting transition,” said the author. Such
activism could also end exploitation of young people by "unprincipled
elites” who use elements of hip hop, but fear "political energy that
cannot be controlled,” he said.
Many artists have embraced Sen. Obama’s candidacy and used their
ability to reach millions to offer supportive messages. Rapper Nas
released a song called "Black President.” In a trend started by
Will.i.am, artists like John Legend, actress and singer Tatyana Ali,
CeCe Penniston and others have created songs with variations of Obama’s
Panelist Angela Woodson, co-chaired the National Hip Hop Political
Convention 2004 which brought together close to 4,000 young activists
to create and implement a hip hop political agenda. She and Tonja
Stiles, founder of Politicalswagger.com, said the power of individuals
to come together collectively and make change is real.
Students for Barack Obama began in the summer of 2006 when young
people began using Facebook to petition Sen. Obama to run for
president. The effort and energy of the students resulted in a group
that became the official student organization for Obama for America
once he decided to run.
Ms. Styles recounted how the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
hosted a hip hop summit in 1997 after deaths of rap rivals Tupac Shakur
and the Notorious B.I.G. Rappers were brought together to discuss using
their creativity and power for good, she said.
Actress Tatyana Ali has traveled to college campuses encouraging
voter registration on behalf of the Obama campaign. She plans to vote
and is confident young people will turn out for the Nov. 4 election.
"I think young people have showed up in great numbers during the
primary and I think they are going to do it again because the issues
that are really important in this election are really important to
young people—like bringing our friends and loved ones back home from
Iraq and taking care of them once they are back. Like education and
making sure it is affordable health care and the environment,” said the
While not dismissing the hip hop generation’s enthusiasm and
activism, BET talk show host Jeff Johnson wants to see more sustained
activism. "I’ll be very honest, we go through this every four years,”
he said. "There’s an extra dose of energy as a result of Obama being
the candidate, but we had excitement with ‘Vote or Die’ (in 2004) so
the real issue is not only will the young people come out and vote, but
will these young people rally when it’s not an election? I’m more
concerned about these young people rallying tomorrow about police
brutality, and lack of resources in their communities than I am about
them voting in the November. Because if they’re not willing to fight
for the issues in their communities now, it doesn’t matter if Barack
Obama, John McCain or Jesus is in the White House, because at the end
of the day, if we aren’t fighting for our own communities nobody is
going to do it.”
Big Shug (of Gang Starr Foundation) has a new single entitled "My
Boston" featuring Termanology & Singapore Kane. It's also a nice
point to mention it was produced by DJ Premier (of Gangstarr). On a
side note on September 13th, in Boston, Big Shug and others will be
performing at The Good Life (28 Kingston Street). Doors open at 9.
Boston" featuring Termanology & Singapore Kane
Prince Po of Organized Konfusion stated that he and Pharaohe Monch have worked on a new song together entitled "Then and Now". Even though it's a new song by the two, it will remain unheard for now. He also stated it could lead to a possible album and website. Organized Konfusion was formed in the early 90's and recorded 3 great albums before their split which eventually lead to Pharaohe Monch's solo career.