“When we acknowledge the scale of surveillance and covert policing that we face today,” writes Kewsi Shaddai in The Guardian’s Comment is Free, “the FBI’s renewed attempt to “recapture” Assata should disturb every single one of us.”
After more than a decade of civil rights activism with the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, Assata was convicted for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper in 1973. Escaping from maximum security prison in 1979, she has been a fugitive ever since. Last year she became the first ever woman to make the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list.
In his double page spread for The Independent – ‘Black militant, fugitive cop killer, terrorist threat… or escaped slave?’ – Tim Walker takes a look at the many divisive faces of an American villain and heroine.
Meanwhile, in her cover feature for The Guardian’s G2 magazine, charting Assata’s rise from tom boy misfit to civil rights activist to become one of the FBI’s most-wanted ‘terrorists’, Bim Adewunmi asks: “Is she still such a threat to US security that she warrants a $2m reward for her capture?”
Lastly, prize-winning British author and poet Bernardine Evaristo writes in the Independent Magazine how “Shakur is definitely the feisty heroine of her own story, and has long been an iconic figure, now with a $2m bounty on her head.”
With her conviction and ‘terrorist’ classification seen by many as emblematic of institutional racism in the USA, and as godmother to rapper Tupac Shakur, Assata has been eulogised by some of hip hop’s brightest stars, from Public Enemy to Jay-Z, via Common. To listen to our Assata-inspired playlist, click below.
Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur is published by Zed Books, available to buy online and in shops nationwide.
The new edition will be launched at an event at the new Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, London, on 21 August. Joining us will be rapper Akala and performance poet Zena Edwards. For further details click here and scroll down. Tickets are free but RSVP is essential.