Former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur was born on July 16, 1947, in New York City.
Shakur led the Black Panther’s Harlem chapter and coordinated a school breakfast program. She eventually left the party and criticized them as lacking a foundation of Black history.
She gained infamy in 1973 after a shootout in New Jersey in which a state trooper was killed. Shakur, Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were pulled over for having a broken tail light on the New Jersey Turnpike. One of the troopers drew his gun and ordered them to put their hands in the air. According to Shakur, they all complied, but a shootout ensued. Assata Shakur was shot; Zayd Malik Shakur and state trooper Werner Foerster were killed.
In 1977, she was sentenced to life in prison plus 33 years. She escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey two years later. Shakur was granted asylum in Cuba where she is believed to currently reside at age 65.
Shakur is the first woman to be added to the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists and the New Jersey State Police have announced a $2 million reward (up from the $1 million offered in 2005) for leads on her capture.
“Assata is not a threat,” scholar and activist Angela Davis said to Democracy Now! “If anything, this is a vendetta.”
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(Photo: Courtesy of New Jersey State Police via FBI)