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Assata Shakur

Assata Shakur (born July 16, 1947) was a leader in the Black Liberation[?] movement in the United States. Her name at birth was JoAnne Deborah Byron Chesimard, although she changed it to avoid using what she considered to be a slave name. She grew up in New York City and attended Manhattan Community College[?], where she was involved in many struggles. In her career as a social leader and revolutionary, she fought for welfare recipients' rights, free breakfast programs in poor black neighborhoods, prisoners' rights, and many other causes, both as a member of the Black Panther Party and in other organizations.

On May 2, 1973, Shakur, no longer a member of the Black Panther Party, was stopped on the New Jersey State Turnpike, along with two Black Panthers: Zayd Shakur[?] and Sundiata Acoli[?]. In an ensuing gunfight, Zayd Shakur and one New Jersey state policeman were killed and Assata Shakur and one New Jersey state policeman were injured. Over the next two-and-a-half years, Assata Shakur claims she was incarcerated, beaten, and tortured in a series of federal and state prisons while being tried in six different criminal trials arranged by the FBI COINTEL program against the black liberation movement. The charges ranged from kidnapping to assault and battery to bank robbery. She was acquitted in all six cases.

However, Shakur was found guilty of the murder of both the state trooper and her companion Zayd Shakur, for her presence at the gun battle. In 1979 she escaped prison and lived underground until 1986, when she was granted political asylum in Cuba. In 1998, the United States Congress unanimously passed a resolution asking Cuba for the extradition of Joanne Chesimard. Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus later explained that they were against her extradition, but they had not recognized her name when the bill was proposed.



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