Quotes by Assata Shakur
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Wikipedia Summary for Assata Shakur
Assata Olugbala Shakur (born JoAnne Deborah Byron; July 16, 1947; also married name, JoAnne Chesimard) is a former member of the Black Liberation Army (BLA), who was convicted in the first-degree murder of State Trooper Werner Foerster during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973. Shakur is wanted by the FBI and there is a $2 million reward for her apprehension.
Born in Flushing, Queens, she grew up in New York City and Wilmington, North Carolina. After she ran away from home several times, her aunt, who would later act as one of her lawyers, took her in. She became involved in political activism at Borough of Manhattan Community College and City College of New York. After graduation, she began using the name Assata Shakur, and briefly joined the Black Panther Party. She then joined the BLA, a loosely knit offshoot of the Black Panthers, which engaged in an armed struggle against the US government through tactics such as robbing banks and killing police officers and drug dealers.
Between 1971 and 1973, she was charged with several crimes and was the subject of a multi-state manhunt. In May 1973, Shakur was arrested after being wounded in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. Also involved in the shootout were New Jersey State Troopers Werner Foerster and James Harper and BLA members Sundiata Acoli and Zayd Malik Shakur. State Trooper Harper was wounded; Zayd Shakur was killed; State Trooper Foerster was killed. Between 1973 and 1977, Shakur was charged with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, bank robbery, and kidnapping in relation to the shootout and six other incidents. She was acquitted on three of the charges and three were dismissed. In 1977, she was convicted of the murder of State Trooper Foerster and of seven other felonies related to the 1973 shootout. Her defense had argued medical evidence suggested her innocence.
While serving a life sentence for murder, Shakur escaped in 1979 from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in Union Township, NJ, now the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. She surfaced in Cuba in 1984, where she was granted political asylum. Shakur has lived in Cuba since, despite US government efforts to have her returned. She has been on the FBI Most Wanted Terrorists list since 2013 as Joanne Deborah Chesimard and was the first woman to be added to this list.
Cuba has its own moral system and priorities. That's what keeps it going, the belief that the country can control its own destiny.
The abnormal, the sick, the vicious have become more and more interwoven into the violent culture of the United States. Into the way news is seen, into the way movies are seen.
I was sentenced to life plus 30 years by an all-White jury. What I saw in prison was wall-to-wall Black flesh in chains. Women caged in cells. But we're the terrorists. It just doesn't make sense.
My experience in the United States was living in a society that was very much at war with itself, that was very alienated. People felt not part of a community, but like isolated units that were afraid of interaction, of contact, that were lonely.
People are tried and convicted in the newspapers and on television before they ever see a courtroom.
Part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane. That is more fun, too. That is more loving. It's really working to create something beautiful.
Imperialism is the underlying motor of racism. The underlying reason that racism keeps on being promoted in all of its various forms.
I have been a political activist most of my life and many groups have attempted to label me as a criminal because of my outspoken beliefs. I am not a criminal and I have never been one.
The government recognized immediately that Rap music has enormous revolutionary potential and politicians immediately came together to end it.
People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.
Tourism has affected Cuba, because tourists come and they bring racist, sexist ideas. They bring a whole vision that there are rich people all over the world and that's the way it should be.
We're living in a very tricky world, and unless we become analytical and expose the tricknology, people will become sucked into that. It is very easy, it is very, very easy.
I stay connected in my head. I'm spiritually and psychologically connected to African-Americans. They are my people, and that will never change.
A lot of contemporary American culture makes its way to this county. Cuba is not some gray, isolated backwater. This is a happening place.
I've always been a student of different ways of looking at the world, different religions. That's been part of my survival mechanism, and also part of my curiosity as a person.
Hip Hop can be a very effective way to reach young people and teach them about current political and social issues.
People ask me if I miss the States. I miss African Americans. But not the U.S. government or all the things they put me through. I miss African American culture, our speech, dance and cooking.
Before going back to college, i knew i didn't want to be an intellectual, spending my life in books and libraries without knowing what the hell is going on in the streets. Theory without practice is just as incomplete as practice without theory. The two have to go together.
When Black people seriously organize and take up arms to fight for our liberation, there will be a lot of white people who will drop dead from no other reason than their own guilt and fear.
The U. S. is becoming more hostile to Black people and other people of color. Racism is running rampant and xenophobia is on the rise.
Schools in amerika are interested in brainwashing people with amerikanism, giving them a little bit of education, and training them in skills needed to fill the positions the capitalist system requires. As long as we expect amerika's schools to educate us, we will remain ignorant.
And if I know anything at all, it's that a wall is just a wall and nothing more at all. It can be broken down.
My energy just couldn't stop dancing. I was caught up in the music of struggle, and i wanted to dance.
We had to learn that we're beautiful. We had to relearn something forcefully taken from us. We had to learn about Black power. People have power if we unite. We learned the importance of coming together and being active.
I couldn't see how we could seriously struggle without having a strong sense of collectivity, without being responsible FOR each other and TO each other.
If the U.S. succeeds in destroying the revolution, my status will be like that of most Cubans: I'll be up a creek without a paddle. It will be devastating for people worldwide who believe in justice.
The people who are running this planet are insane -- they are literally destroying it. I don't know where they think they're gonna drink water, breathe air.
There's something nice about being able to go to sleep at night saying You know, tomorrow I'm gonna get up and I'm gonna do this and I'm gonna do that.... I think that being an activist on this planet is a privilege and a pleasure.
There is a down side to everything if you don't understand what the consequences of what you are saying in your music you could possibly end up getting yourself killed or hurting other people because of your carelessness.
At this time I'd like to say a few words especially to my sisters: SISTERS. BLACK PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE FREE UNLESS BLACK WOMEN PARTICIPATE IN EVERY ASPECT OF OUR STRUGGLE, ON EVERY LEVEL OF OUR STRUGGLE.
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.
The methods of peaceful protests are not capable of being effective, because in reality most people pay little attention to things that are not abrasive.
There's something about approaching 50 that's very liberating. Political struggle has always been a 24-hour-a-day job for me. I felt I could never take time out for myself. Now I feel I owe it to myself to develop in ways I've been putting off all my life.
A revolutionary woman can't have no reactionary man. If he's not about liberation, if he's not about struggle, if he ain't about building a strong Black family, if he ain't about building a strong Black nation, then he ain't about nothing.
I advocate revolutionary changes...an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty.
I have declared war on the rich who prosper on our poverty, the politicians who lie to us with smiling faces, and all the mindless, heartless, robots who protect them and their property.
Every person that steps up and commits to social change helps solidify the black movement cause. It is not easy for those who fill in the leader role.
I think that, like many sisters, I was raised to be a Superwoman. I am a serious woman, and I want to be taken seriously.
Unless you are addressing the issues people are concerned about and contributing positive direction, they'll never support you. The first thing the enemy tries to do is isolate revolutionaries from the masses of people, making us horrible and hideous monsters so that our people will hate us.
Any community seriously concerned with its own freedom has to be concerned about other people's freedom as well. The victory of oppressed people anywhere in the world is a victory for Black people. Each time one of imperialism's tentacles is cut off we are closer to liberation.
I don't have to live up to that Superwoman myth. I can cry and be human and lean on people who take care of me. That can be very liberating.
I must confess that waltzes do not move me, I guess I hummed the blues too early, and spent too many midnights out wailing to the rain.
I found that people had all kinds of levels of consciousness, all kinds of levels of education, but that Cubans in general were very educated politically. I could go sit in a bus and get into a conversation with someone and that person had a wealth of knowledge. And energy!
Are you ready to sacrifice to end world hunger? To sacrifice to end colonialism? To end neo-colonialism? To end racism? To end sexism?
I really prefer to be kind of anonymous. Because when people know your whole history, they have a tendency to relate to you differently and maybe put you up on a pedestal. I want people to just be normal with me. I just want to live my life.
And it is that one percent, the heads of large corporations, who control the policies of news media and determine what you and I hear on radio, read in the newspapers, see on television. It is more important for us to think about where the media gets its information.
It never occurred to me that anyone would name a nuclear missile Peacekeeper. It never occurred to me that thousands of people would be killed in the name of peace-keeping.
When you go through all your life processing and abusing your hair so it will look like the hair of another race of people then you are making a statement and the statement is clear.
I believe in self-defense and self-determination for Africans and other oppressed people in America.
The real reason Cuba poses a threat has nothing to do with my being here or anyone else being here. It's because Cuba is an example of a country that is actively fighting against imperialist domination and insists on its own right to self-determination and sovereignty.
People think that in order for something to work, it has to be complicated, but a lot of times the opposite is true. We usually reach success by putting the simple truths that we know into practice.
Cubans understand that theirs is a country that provides sanctuary for people fleeing oppression. As a nation, they are very proud of this stance. They don't care how much the U.S. government badgers or attacks them.
I've tried as much as possible to avoid the standard nine-to-five thing. I've tried to organize my life so that I can move around, change the rhythm and the tempo.
I think anybody who is honestly struggling against racism must struggle against imperialism and vice versa.
I miss friends and family. If it weren't for visits from old friends and other African Americans I meet who come to Cuba, I'd probably be in some kind of time warp.
I trust Cuba as a principled country. Cuba's strength is that it has been steadfast in its commitment to the principles of liberation, freedom, of resistance to the kind of institutionalized terrorism that the United States government does every day.
I had to adjust to living in a Third World country, which means that things people in the U.S. take for granted-like hot running water whenever you turn on the tap-are not always available.
Peace is a rare gift. Peace of mind, peaceful sleeps, and peaceful spirits are all luxuries that few rebels can ever afford.
Love is contraband in Hell, cause love is an acid that eats away bars. But you, me, and tomorrow hold hands and make vows that struggle will multiply. The hacksaw has two blades. The shotgun has two barrels. We are pregnant with freedom. We are a conspiracy.
When I was a child, if someone had talked to me about buying water, I would have thought it was a joke.
If we are not committed to saving this earth we will be buying designer air filters and gas masks with little Nike swishes on them.
I'm not quite sure what freedom is, but i know damn well what it ain't. How have we gotten so silly, i wonder.
The U.S. doesn't recognize the laws of Cuba. They can kidnap anybody and bring them back to the States to face the so-called justice system. There's no telling what the U.S. government will do to me. I'm in constant danger; I guess I've gotten used to it.
Being in Cuba has allowed me to live in a society that is not at war with itself. There is a sense of community. It's a given in Cuba that, if you fall down, the person next to you is going to help you get up.
The US has attacked countries like Grenada, Panama, Libya... the list of victims of US terrorism is almost infinite. And the US government's participation in torture, whether in El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile... is well-documented and widely known.
I think that one of the problems that exists in the United States and in many places in the world is that people don't believe that they can make a difference. So a lot of times we're defeated before we even start. We've become consumers of a world vision, of Kentucky Fried Chicken, of McDonalds.
I think that in order to struggle you have to be creative. In my life, creativity has been something that has sustained me; it awoke my spiritual struggle.