Born JoAnne Deborah Byron 7/16/47 in Jamaica Queens, New York.
Joined the BPP, coordinated the breakfast program and was a leading member of the Harlem branch.
“The basic problem stemmed from the fact that the BPP had no systematic approach to political education. They were reading the Red Book but didn’t know who Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, and Nat Turner were. They talked about intercommunalism but still really believed that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. A whole lot of them barely understood any kind of history, Black, African or otherwise. […] That was the main reason many Party members, in my opinion, underestimated the need to unite with other Black organizations and to struggle around various community issues.”
She is on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List, since 2013, the first woman to ever appear on the list.
She has been living in exile in Cuba after escaping prison.
William Kunstler and Flo Kennedy were among her lawyers.
Common recorded A Song for Assata.
In 1997 a documentary film about her, Eyes of the Rainbow was released.
Assata Shakur: An Autobiography, was published in 1987 and Still Black, Still Strong with Mumia Abu-Jamal was published in 1993.
She spent 6.5 years in prison before she escaped.