Why is the FBI so threatened by Assata Shakur?

Black liberation activist Assata Shakur was placed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list. As the only woman and only black person on the list, what makes Shakur such a threat? Colorlines outlines the history of this list and Assata Shakur’s background in this article.

“Assata Shakur has been given many names over the past four decades. Her political allies in the 1970s struggle for black liberation knew her as a comrade and freedom fighter. Ever since her escape from a New Jersey prison and exile in Cuba, she’s become an icon to many on the radical left. Some, mostly critics, still call her by her birth name, Joanne Chesimard. Now the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a new name for her: terrorist.”

Assata Shakur, originally from Queens, NY, was an activist, Black nationalist, and uncompromising orator and community mobilizer. Though born as “Joanne Deborah Bryon,” Shakur later changed her name to “Assata” (“she who struggles”) and “Shakur” (“the thankful”). Though remembered as a radical, her philosophical views were not necessarily always in alignment with this typecast. Instead, it wasn’t until the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  in 1968 that “precipitated Assata Shakur’s embrace of the militant Black Power movement and her rejection of nonviolence.

Her political involvement traversed the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, ultimately leading to her surveillance through the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. As a result, she fled and went into hiding – and is likely still alive today. Her 1987 autobiography provides some insight into her political affiliations and movement, but still much is left unsaid. Learn more about her heroic actions, uncompromising political attitude, and unwavering love for Blackness in the article below.