originally published 1987.


When I was an undergrad at Brooklyn College, I was tasked to read the novel ASSATA in 4 days for my civil rights and black power course. It was definitely a worthwhile experience , where I spent intimate time with a phenomenal piece of work. Assata Shakur is a former Black Panther party member. In 1973 she was charged with the murder of a white New Jersey state trooper, while a friend of hers died from the altercation and she herself was severely wounded. This was the time when the FBI’s “cointelpro” operations was hell-bent on destroying every black nationalist movement. They went as far as labeling them terrorist hate groups, and engaged in illegal activities to see their demise. Assata would serve as a casualty of these operations as many  trumped-up charges would be brought against her.

The autobiography takes us on her journey from just being a regular black child raised in a racist society where she was told constantly what black people couldn’t become to her rising consciousness of understanding the plight of her people. This piece of work allows us to experience the Jim Crow era and gain a full understanding of why the panthers was attractive to young, underprivileged black youth. She goes into detail of explaining the rise and demise of black nationalist movements, and the government’s role in making sure their advances were put to a halt. Her personal stories and ideologies hit close to home and resembles the racial divide that is happening today. For example in regards to the riots that occurred recently, there were also several riots in the 60’s, and from this you realize the same ideas and feelings that people discuss about the riots now are the same they discussed back then. How could they burn down their own neighborhood?what’s rioting going to solve? Is it mostly outside agitators? or if they stick to peaceful protests they’d be more effective. Also media portrayal of rioters as animals and savages that’s destroying property with no reasonable cause.

Furthermore Assata  discusses how she was treated as an individual that was guilty in the eyes of public opinion before they ever charged with her anything. She discussed the court proceedings and the unfair tactics used to ensure that she received a jail sentence. ASSATA AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY covers so many different issues and their historical context and really lets you understand who Assata Shakur really is and what she represented for the black power/leftist movements.



Great read, it may put things in a new perspective for you.




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