You won’t learn about Assata Shakur in an average history lesson. In fact, her name probably won’t even come up during Black History Month. She’s one of those revolutionaries that continues to make people uncomfortable. For one, she’s still alive. For another, she had the nerve to out-maneuver several of the USA’s beloved institutions — the legal system, the FBI, even the New Jersey State Police.
Assata is no Rosa Parks. She’s one of those people whose stories will force you to question things you hold to be true, or want to hold to be true. For example, if you want to go on believing that our legal system is just, that racism is dead, and that police violence does not target people of color, well, this probably isn’t the book for you. But if you’re curious about why this 60+ year old lady is the only female on the FBI’s most wanted list, what an absolute clown-show of a fake trial looks like, or what the BPP was like in the 1970’s, you’ll probably enjoy this book.
Assata calls a pig a pig. Her style of writing, like her style of revolution, is no-nonsense. This is a woman that believes ideas are only as good as the actions they lead to, a woman that spent 20 months in solitary confinement and didn’t break, a woman that was beaten viciously, in court, in the presence of a judge, for refusing to have her photograph taken. Her story is important.
In 1979 Assata escaped from prison, she is still alive and well in Cuba. But in the wake of Ferguson and Ronald Singleton, we should all remember that the things Assata was fighting against are also still alive and well.
Oh and, fun fact, Assata is Tupac’s godmother.