Mutulu Shakur: Proof That a Different Kind of Prison is Possible
He helped us and paid with his life
By Pam Bailey
In 1988, Mutulu Shakur, a Black-liberation leader and stepfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur, was convicted in connection with the robbery of a Brink’s armored truck, during which three people were killed (although not by him). He has been incarcerated for 35 years now and has repeatedly been denied both parole and compassionate release, despite a record of peaceful and productive leadership in prison.
Now, at age 71, Shakur has been diagnosed with advanced bone marrow cancer. An oncologist has told the court that even with successful treatment, Shakur will likely die within two to three years. Without treatment, or if it fails, he is expected to live fewer than 11 months. Nearly 55,000 people have signed a petition calling on President Biden and the federal Bureau of Prisons to grant Shakur immediate compassionate release.
James Carpenter, released in 2020 after serving 24 years, is one of those signatories. But unlike most of them, he has personal knowledge of the role model Shakur has become. They were incarcerated together back in the early 2000s.
“They should let that man go home,” he says. “He’s been nothing but positivity and an uplifter of people, always working to intervene in conflicts and find solutions to problems. The concept of tolerance and cultural diversity that is so big right now? I heard it from him years ago.”
A thoroughly researched and insightful look at acupuncture’s radical history in NYC has been released by Brevis Press and is now available in bookstores worldwide. Rachel Pagones’ ‘Acupuncture as Revolution: Suffering, Liberation and Love’ provides not only a detailed account of Lincoln Detox, but also the lesser-known history of BAAANA featuring Dr. Mutulu Shakur in his own words throughout.
Longtime supporter of Dr. Shakur, Adrian “Rocky” is making her boxing debut this summer! Follow her journey by subscribing to Roc’s House on YouTube! You don’t want to miss her in the ring as she continues the fight for freedom and justice for Dr. Shakur:
A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle of Asians in America, a 1973 Paredon Records release, is widely recognized as the first album of Asian American music. Chris Kando Iijima, Joanne Nobuko Miyamoto, and William “Charlie” Chin deliver their activist message through simply–recorded acoustic guitars and vocals, with the occasional accompaniment of bongos, bass, and di zi, a Chinese flute. Soul, jazz, and blues elements are interwoven in the American folk style of the songs. The artists were also influenced by their solidarity with African American and Latin American social movements; for example, their musical collaboration with Puerto Rican duo Flora y Pepe and exposure to Latino artists while living in New York. The liner notes include a political statement by the musicians, lyrics, and a list of Asian American publications from the era:
The album Yellow Pearl released on Paredon was the poetic and groundbreaking “A Grain of Sand: Music for the Struggle by Asians in America,” which included anthems like “We Are the Children” and “Free the Land,” featuring backing vocals from Mutulu Shakur (his stepson, Tupac Shakur, sang along to “A Grain of Sand” as a child, according to Smithsonian Folkways Magazine). It was recorded in two and a half days at a small New York studio and that no-frills spontaneity brings the music alive still.
The National Acupuncture Detoxification (NADA) is a not-for-profit training and advocacy organization, encourages community wellness through the use of a standardized auricular acupuncture protocol for behavioral health, including addictions, mental health, and disaster & emotional trauma. This organization originated from Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s development and use of what is now known as the NADA protocol to treat heroin and methadone addiction. Thousands of healers continue to be trained through NADA to carry on this healing work in communities all over the world. Due to Dr. Shakur’s foundational role in bringing acupuncture to underserved communities in NYC, organizations such as NADA support his freedom.