“To my people” by Assata Shakur (July 4th, 1973)

Listen Seeker, I come in peace,

“[I] am a revolutionary. A Black revolutionary. By that i mean that i have declared war on all forces that have raped our women, castrated our men, and kept our babies empty-bellied.” — Assata Shakur

I posted two posts related to July 4th because Assata Shakur wrote the following letter on July 4th, 1973. I did not foresee that on May 2nd, 2013, the Department of Justice would double the reward for Assata Shakur’s sentence to $2,000,000 (scroll down). This, of course, under Barack Obama’s watch. A total travesty.

On assatashakur.org, Assata Shakur tells us this,

“My name is Assata (“she who struggles”) Olugbala ( “for the people” ) Shakur (“the thankful one”), and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.”

If we didn’t know, now we ought to, something is and has always been wrong  with America. Notice, if you will, that Frederick Douglass spoke against July 4th and here Assata wrote on July 4th too. We need to put away the annual barbecue and get serious. Assata has been protected in Cuba, not Africa but Cuba. It is our responsibility to empower Africa and African lands to where our people can protect our people. If you are up to the task, if you believe that this Sister, like many of our Sisters, deserves protection, then enlist in an Organization. We must plead ourselves to the cause of Africa–no one else will.

May 2nd Interview:

Flyers:

Autobiography: 

Official Website and Forum: http://assatashakur.org/

Quotations and additional information: http://to-my-people.tumblr.com/

“To my people”
by Assata Shakur (July 4, 1973)

Black brothers, Black sisters, i want you to know that i love you and i hope that somewhere in your hearts you have love for me. My name is Assata Shakur (slave name joanne chesimard), and i am a revolutionary. A Black revolutionary. By that i mean that i have declared war on all forces that have raped our women, castrated our men, and kept our babies empty-bellied.
I have declared war on the rich who prosper on our poverty, the politicians who lie to us with smiling faces, and all the mindless, heart-less robots who protect them and their property.
I am a Black revolutionary, and, as such, i am a victim of all the wrath, hatred, and slander that amerika is capable of. Like all other Black revolutionaries, amerika is trying to lynch me.
I am a Black revolutionary woman, and because of this i have been charged with and accused of every alleged crime in which a woman was believed to have participated. The alleged crimes in which only men were supposedly involved, i have been accused of planning. They have plastered pictures alleged to be me in post offices, airports, hotels, police cars, subways, banks, television, and newspapers. They have offered over fifty thousand dollars in rewards for my capture and they have issued orders to shoot on sight and shoot to kill.
I am a Black revolutionary, and, by definition, that makes me a part of the Black Liberation Army. The pigs have used their newspapers and TVs to paint the Black Liberation Army as vicious, brutal, mad-dog criminals. They have called us gangsters and gun molls and have compared us to such characters as john dillinger and ma barker. It should be clear, it must be clear to anyone who can think, see, or hear, that we are the victims. The victims and not the criminals.
It should also be clear to us by now who the real criminals are. Nixon and his crime partners have murdered hundreds of Third World brothers and sisters in Vietnam, Cambodia, Mozambique, Angola, and South Africa. As was proved by Watergate, the top law enforcement officials in this country are a lying bunch of criminals. The president, two attorney generals, the head of the fbi, the head of the cia, and half the white house staff have been implicated in the Watergate crimes.
They call us murderers, but we did not murder over two hundred fifty unarmed Black men, women, and children, or wound thousands of others in the riots they provoked during the sixties. The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives. They call us murderers, but we were not responsible for the twenty-eight brother inmates and nine hostages murdered at attica. They call us murderers, but we did not murder and wound over thirty unarmed Black students at Jackson State—or Southern State, either.
They call us murderers, but we did not murder Martin Luther King, Jr., Emmett Till, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, George Jackson, Nat Turner, James Chaney, and countless others. We did not murder, by shooting in the back, sixteen-year-old Rita Lloyd, eleven-year-old Rickie Bodden, or ten-year-old Clifford Glover. They call us murderers, but we do not control or enforce a system of racism and oppression that systematically murders Black and Third World people. Although Black people supposedly comprise about fifteen percent of the total amerikkkan population, at least sixty percent of murder victims are Black. For every pig that is killed in the so-called line of duty, there are at least fifty Black people murdered by the police.
Black life expectancy is much lower than white and they do their best to kill us before we are even born. We are burned alive in fire-trap tenements. Our brothers and sisters OD daily from heroin and methadone. Our babies die from lead poisoning. Millions of Black people have died as a result of indecent medical care. This is murder. But they have got the gall to call us murderers.
They call us kidnappers, yet Brother Clark Squires (who is accused, along with me, of murdering a new jersey state trooper) was kidnapped on April z, 1969, from our Black community and held on one million dollars’ ransom in the New York Panther 21 conspiracy case. He was acquitted on May 13, 1971, along with all the others, of 156 counts of conspiracy by a jury that took less than two hours to deliberate. Brother Squires was innocent. Yet he was kidnapped from his community and family. Over two years of his life was stolen, but they call us kidnappers. We did not kidnap the thousands of Brothers and Sisters held captive in amerika’s concentration camps. Ninety percent of the prison population in this country are Black and Third World people who can afford neither bail nor lawyers.
They call us thieves and bandits. They say we steal. But it was not we who stole millions of Black people from the continent of Africa. We were robbed of our language, of our Gods, of our culture, of our human dignity, of our labor, and of our lives. They call us thieves, yet it is not
we who rip off billions of dollars every year through tax evasions, illegal price fixing, embezzlement, consumer fraud, bribes, kickbacks, and swindles. They call us bandits, yet every time most Black people pick up our paychecks we are being robbed. Every time we walk into a store in our neighborhood we are being held up. And every time we pay our rent the landlord sticks a gun into our ribs.
They call us thieves, but we did not rob and murder millions of Indians by ripping off their homeland, then call ourselves pioneers. They call us bandits, but it is not we who are robbing Africa, Asia, and Latin America of their natural resources and freedom while the people who live there are sick and starving. The rulers of this country and their flunkies have committed some of the most brutal, vicious crimes in history. They are the bandits. They are the murderers. And they should be treated as such. These maniacs are not fit to judge me, Clark, or any other Black person on trial in amerika. Black people should and, inevitably, must determine our destinies.
Every revolution in history has been accomplished by actions, al-though words are necessary. We must create shields that protect us and spears that penetrate our enemies. Black people must learn how to struggle by struggling. We must learn by our mistakes.
I want to apologize to you, my Black brothers and sisters, for being on the new jersey turnpike. I should have known better. The turnpike is a checkpoint where Black people are stopped, searched, harassed, and assaulted. Revolutionaries must never be in too much of a hurry or make careless decisions. He who runs when the sun is sleeping will stumble many times.
Every time a Black Freedom Fighter is murdered or captured, the pigs try to create the impression that they have quashed the movement, destroyed our forces, and put down the Black Revolution. The pigs also try to give the impression that five or ten guerrillas are responsible for every revolutionary action carried out in amerika. That is nonsense. That is absurd. Black revolutionaries do not drop from the moon. We are created by our conditions. Shaped by our oppression. We are being manufactured in droves in the ghetto streets, places like attica, san quentin, bedford hills, leavenworth, and sing sing. They are turning out thousands of us. Many jobless Black veterans and welfare mothers are joining our ranks. Brothers and sisters from all walks of life, who are tired of suffering passively, make up the BLA.
There is, and always will be, until every Black man, woman, and child is free, a Black Liberation Army. The main function of the Black
Liberation Army at this time is to create good examples, to struggle for Black freedom, and to prepare for the future. We must defend ourselves and let no one disrespect us. We must gain our liberation by any means necessary.

It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

In the spirit of:

Ronald Carter
William Christmas
Mark Clark
Mark Essex
Frank “Heavy” Fields
Woodie Changa Olugbala Green
Fred Hampton
Lil’ Bobby Hutton
George Jackson
Jonathan Jackson
James McClain
Harold Russel
Zayd Malik Shakur
Anthony Kumu Olugbala White

We must fight on.

17 thoughts on ““To my people” by Assata Shakur (July 4th, 1973)

      1. @Onitaset: Thank you brother, being likened to Assata Shakur is a Great Compliment. I’ve been reading more of your articles today and your level of dedication to our people is astounding. I first stumbled across your website purely by accident and saw a comment by my brother Kushite Prince and I was surprised that I had come across the very topic he had raised with me in which we discussed whether interracial sex was rape. I had disagreed with the view of interracial sex being ‘rape’ because the act was consensual… but after I had thought about it, I realised it was indeed rape. Then I came across your article and that solidified my realisation. Sorry, I didn’t mean to digress from the current topic… I will be adding more comments about Assata Shakur when I have more time.

      2. Consent is a funny word. Exploring your site, I found the idea that Europeans manufacture our psychological consent by over exposure and beauty advertising of the European Race beside of course the sociological, ecological and ideological implications of interracialism. By manipulating our logical faculties it’s little wonder that ‘consent’ seems given. Yet this manipulation of our logic has a backdrop of disempowerment and its irresponsible to neglect this point. In this way, the conversation is interesting though probably better had under a relevant topic.

        As to the likening, Assata Shakur loves our people, you love our people, the comparison makes itself. We mustn’t forget that Assata, like our other wonderful Africans, loves our people. It’s this love for race which makes us service and be brave.

        Finally, there are no accidents, for our forebears and Creator knows and guides all.

      1. All we usually hear about are the so-called responsible leaders, the ones who are “responsible” to our oppressors. IIn the same way that we don’t hear about a fraction of the Black men and women who have struggled hard and tirelessly throughout our history, we don’t hear about our heroes of today.

        The schools we go to are reflections of the society that created them. Nobody is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free. Schools in amerika are interested in brainwashing people with amerikanism, giving them a little bit of education, and training them in skills needed to fill the positions te capitalist system requires. As long as we expect amerika’s schools to educate us, we will remain ignorant.

        — Assata Shakur

        Separately,

        “Whoever does not inform his children of his grandparents has destroyed his child, marred his descendants, and injured his offspring the day he dies. Whoever does not make use of his ancestry has muddled his reason. Whoever is unconcerned with his lineage has lost his mind. Whoever neglects his origin, his stupidity has become critical. Whoever is unaware of his ancestry his incompetence has become immense. Whoever is ignorant of his roots his intellect has vanished. Whoever does not know his place of origin, his honor has collapsed.

        — 15th Century Poet in Timbuktu

        Tomorrow’s article reviews a survey from a century ago that reads like it were written a day ago. Progress is not a change of speakers, progress is a change of consciousness. The oppression of today is the oppression of yesterday. Until we organize against it, nothing new can be said.

        Ironically, I finished reading Assata Shakur’s autobiography an hour ago. It read like it was written a day ago. Same problems. “The key to all problems is the problem of consciousness.” Let us Organize!

      2. i’m in the middle of reading Yurugu…perhaps, with much effort, it can be done within a week …against the backdrop of some other exams currently being undertaken

  1. Asante sana 4 sharing this speech by Queen Mother Assata I have read numerous timez and it iz 1 of her best speechez. I have been a member at assatashakur.org since 2005 and am still a moderator there. It iz my home away from home, being a staff member and then becoming a moderator taught me quite a bit and lead me to build my 1st website in late 2008 http://www.blackunity.ning.com that iz still up and running to this day. Assata iz welcome here.

    1. I took a quick look at your website and it looks very interesting. I will be going back to take a deeper look when I have more time. Ase.

      1. Please do come back there is a wealth of of information newz, history (our story). I bring it from an RBG perspective. Panther Love

  2. I find it interesting that ever since Beyonce and JZ incensed the some governmental authorities with their trip to Cuba, the boom has been lowered on Assata Shakur.

    First Assata’s name is brought up as a killer; Then Cuba is implicated in harboring a fugitive from “justice”. Last and most important Assata is put on Amerika’s most wanted list and the reward for the runaway slave is anted up to $2,000,000.

    What and who is driving this? Did they really get that incensed by a vacation Beyonce and JZ took to Cuba? What is really going on here? I’m pretty sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the capture of Assata, who has been living in exile in Cuba for 30 years; PEACEFULLY.

    1. Very acute, Sister sittinducks. There was an uproar over that couple going to Cuba. It also happens that since 1973 it’s the 40th anniversary of the NJ Turnpike incident (May 2nd, 1973.) In regard Politics, empowered people bring up issues. Perhaps the Cuba visit empowered those seeking Assata’s capture. Although often it’s worth recalling that Europeans remember dates and do anniversaries. There’s probably much not seen, known, understood; but that’s what we come to expect. My qualm is there’s no African Power Center which could withstand such a huge bounty and that’s our Race’s shame. We need to build.

  3. @Onitaset: Yes, I believe that every sista who has a deep love for our people embodies the same passion for our people as Assata Shakur.

    When I think of the Revolutionary moments we have had, two moments stand out in my mind and I note two positive things that were in place at the time. The first revolutionary moment was the Black Town of Tulsa Oklahoma, which thrived because black people were segregated. The second moment was the Black Panther Party, which thrived because it enforced organised retaliation in defence of our people. Segregation and organised retaliation was the backbone of our success. Unfortunately, we have failed to see segregation and organised retaliation as powerful tools. Today we are not prepared for a Revolution because we are integrated and too disorganised to retaliate.

    Assata Shakur had to seek protection in a land outside of Africa, because had she gone to Africa for refuge, her own people would likely have handed her over to our enemies without so much as a backward glance. Nothing has changed since Assata sought refuge in Cuba because we still aren’t segregated or prepared for retaliation in Africa or outside of Africa. We are in ‘no-man’s-land’ and yet we are in need of a Revolution to bring about our freedom.

    As it stands today, we are going to continue to run around like headless chickens while our enemies enjoy our land, our resources and crushing the life out of every single one of us, until we compose a short and simple list of things we must hold true to, so that we can all be on the same page of thought. Being of one thought creates one purpose and one goal. I say it’s time to make a start on composing The List.

    1. Sister Edens,

      Yours is an admirable sentiment. Out of respect, I offer a slight correction. Segregation, Integration and Separation are three distinct ideas. Simplified, Segregation is Dependency on different services of another Race; Integration is Dependency on the same services of another Race; and Separation is Independence of Services. Tulsa was partially Segregated and partially Separated. However, today’s Ghettos are entirely Segregated (Dependent on Europeans and Asians for their services.) In this way, we rally not for “Segregation” which is Dependence but “Separation” which is Independence. The conditions of Segregation are horrible. A clear example of Segregation is what happened to Fannie Lou Hamer. See https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/politics-101-for-african-people-in-america/

      When you mention the importance of Tulsa and the Black Panther Party, I am reminded of the European Abbe Raynald’s similar qualifications to Revolution, which Toussaint L’Ouverture himself would reread.

      “Already there are established two colonies of fugitive Negroes, whom treaties and power protect from assault. Those lightnings announce the thunder. A courageous chief only is wanted.”

      https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/abbe-raynald-inspired-toussaint-louverture/

      The prerequisite were the Maroon Towns. It’s partly for this reason why the African Blood Siblings’ motto is “Maroon and Build For Self.” I consider the Maroons the only free Africans outside of Africa. Here’s an intimate account of the ones in Suriname: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/see-the-hope-for-africa-in-surinames-bizarre-food/

      The practice is further explained in “What is Responsibility?”

      https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/what-is-responsibility/

      It’s interesting that you use the analogy of the headless chicken, as I have a similar allegory: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/04/08/the-allegory-of-the-headless-chicken/

      As far as a list is concerned, in the ABS we hold onto Core Tenets. But as I understand you had enumerated 100 Laws, and of course there is 42 Confessions of Maat, the 10 Blameless Codes and the 3 Universal Laws. From here we need praxis–putting theory into action. As Carter G. Woodson pointed out, we need to start small.

      Links:

      Core Tenets: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/the-core-tenets-of-the-african-blood-siblings/
      42 Confessions: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/maat-the-egyptian-code-of-cardinal-virtues-as-translated-by-theophile-obenga/
      10 Blameless Codes: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/the-10-codes-of-the-blameless/
      3 Universal Laws: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/directory/abs/lore/laws/
      Carter G. Woodson’s advice: https://africanbloodsiblings.wordpress.com/2012/05/30/the-educated-negro-does-not-understand-or-is-unwilling-to-start-small-enterprises-which-make-the-larger-ones-possible-carter-g-woodson/

      I am grateful for your response and intelligent, devoted conversation,

      1. Thank you for the correction, I’ll have to change my opening statement on my website homepage from segregation to separation.

        I will be reading over the links you’ve posted… I’m sure to be enlightened and will get back to you if I have any comments or questions.

        BTW… I’ve replied to your comments on my website – notably to the Fam Blog question as to why we are willing to help our enemies. Unfortunately my website doesn’t inform visitors of follow-up comments like your website does.

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