Revisiting Assata Shakur's Open Letter

Assata Shakur (YouTube)
Assata Shakur (YouTube)

Colorlines' Jamilah King presents a 1998 letter by Shakur, who was recently placed on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list.

In her letter, Shakur provides her own account of the events leading up to her arrest and 1977 conviction. She also details the extent to which the media played a role in her prosecution. Shakur was sentenced to life in prison plus 33 years before she escaped to Cuba.

The U.S. Senate's 1976 Church Commission report on intelligence operations inside the USA, revealed that "The FBI has attempted covertly to influence the public's perception of persons and organizations by disseminating derogatory information to the press, either anonymously or through [']friendly['] news contacts." This same policy is evidently still very much in effect today …

Like most poor and oppressed people in the United States, I do not have a voice. Black people, poor people in the U.S. have no real freedom of speech, no real freedom of expression and very little freedom of the press. The black press and the progressive media has historically played an essential role in the struggle for social justice. We need to continue and to expand that tradition. We need to create media outlets that help to educate our people and our children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I own no TV stations, or Radio Stations or Newspapers. But I feel that people need to be educated as to what is going on, and to understand the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression in Amerika. All I have is my voice, my spirit and the will to tell the truth.


Read Jamilah King's entire piece at Colorlines. 

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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