The real reason the government wants Assata Shakur has nothing to do with her unjustified conviction for allegedly murdering a New Jersey state trooper and everything to do with the government not letting go of the fact that after Assata Shakur was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison in 1975, in 1979 her comrades in the Black Liberation Army broke into the prison, liberated her and successfully spirited her off to Cuba where she was granted political asylum by the Cuban government.
Assata Shakur represents a symbol of militant Black resistance that challenged and humiliated the United States government for its repressive and indifferent policies towards the Black community. Assata Shakur is uncompromising in her beliefs and continues to represent and carry the legacy of the Black Liberation Movement.
Her freedom keeps alive the memory of her imprisoned and martyred comrades from the Black Liberation Army. It must drive the FBI and New Jersey law enforcement crazy that she is beyond the grasp of Imperial America, yet only 90 miles from its borders in revolutionary Cuba.
For those of us who embrace the legacy of the Black Liberation Movement, this latest move against our sister Assata Shakur is a potent reminder that, because there is no longer a militant Black underground that can inflict consequences, the FBI can add Assata Shakur to the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted Terrorists List and the state of New Jersey can double its “bounty” on Assata’s head to $2 million without repercussions. This is something for us to ponder.
And lest someone should think the BLA is passé or a relic from another era, just read over Assata’s above statement on the conditions that gave birth to the BLA and you’ll see that we are confronted with the same conditions today – even with a Black president. It should also be hoped that Assata’s inclusion on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted Terrorist List draws attention back to Assata Shakur’s case and galvanizes opposition to the government’s attempt to capture her.
We should also use this as an opportunity to educate the youth and community about Assata Shakur and the legacy of the BLA, as well as the illegal COINTELPRO program and the countless political prisoners languishing in prison for decades because of its abuses.
Assata Shakur on the other hand will be all right, Assata descends from a long line of Black women who have stood up to and confronted state repression. Her example and actions stand in the company of Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and other Black women who have stood the storm of racism and oppression in White America.
In addition, Assata Shakur draws on the legacy and example of our enslaved ancestors who escaped the plantation and took to the mountains and swamps of the New World as maroons, dodging and fighting slave hunters and U.S. federal marshals paid by White slave owners to hunt them down and deliver them in chains back to the plantation.
Assata Shakur ain’t coming back to the plantation and we should do everything possible to ensure that she doesn’t. For if Malcolm X was, in the words of the late Ossie Davis, “our Black Prince, a shining example of Manhood,” then Assata Shakur is our “Black Queen, a shining example of Black Womanhood.”
By: Robert Saleem Holbrook