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The Final Straw Radio Interview w/ Watani Tyehimba about Dr. Shakur

Watani Tyehimba of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and a supporter and comrade of New Afrikan political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur speaking about Dr. Shakur’s life, activism and the struggle for his release since he’s been diagnosed with serious bone cancer.

Listen to the episode or download the transcript on The Final Straw Radio website.

‘Juneteenth and Black Liberation’ by Nebil Husayn

Our government’s history of oppression compels us to free those Black revolutionaries aging in our prisons

Published on July 15, 2022 on Inquest: A Decarceral Brainstorm by the Institute to End Mass Incerceration

This was only the second year that Americans celebrated Juneteenth as a federal holiday. This day of remembrance, and our nation’s oldest African American holiday, recognizes the fundamental reality that citizens can be unjustly barred from rights afforded to them by their government for years. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which reached Texas more than two years after its signing, was followed by the 13th Amendment, which made human enslavement unconstitutional “except as a punishment for crime.” As it is well documented, this exception incentivized the targeted incarceration of Black men for labor, perpetuated slavery, and served white communities that upheld myths about Black criminality.

Icons of abolition and racial justice such as Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela lived in eras where their activism and acts of civil disobedience on behalf of other Black lives were considered unlawful and worthy of imprisonment. Yet the history of repression and oppression surrounding their actions greatly mitigates and helps explain them.

In their lifetimes, both Malcolm X and Dr. King were considered radical Black leaders and agitators who divided the nation with their critiques of American culture and society. It is in studying the history of these Black activists accused by their peers of radicalism that we can see the ways in which many were villainized and gradually written out of narratives of Black history. Public school students do not commonly learn about the Stono slave rebellion, the insurrection of Nat Turner, the contributions of Malcolm X, or the most famous revolutionary movement to uplift Black communities with a national network of social welfare initiatives — the Black Panther Party. 

Founded in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was a grassroots Marxist-Leninist organization that urged members to challenge the endemic pattern of police brutality and false imprisonment of Black people in Oakland, California, with armed patrols. Under its longtime director J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI considered Pan-African and Black nationalist movements such as the Panthers threats to national security, and many were subjected to unlawful surveillance, intimidation, incarceration, and assault. The highest-profile targets of this coordinated assault were the leaders and members of the Black Panther Party. The urgency with which the party demanded an immediate end to police brutality as part of its Ten Point Program was not a sentiment shared by most Americans until, perhaps, 54 years later — when video footage captured the 2020 murder of George Floyd.

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Faith-based Leaders all over the U.S. Call for Compassionate Release

Over a hundred faith-based leaders sign a letter to the U.S. Parole Commission, U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and U.S. Department of Justice voicing strong support for Mutulu’s compassionate release. The letter, penned to promote the values of redemption and salvation, is addressed to the U.S. Parole Commission Chair Patricia Cushwa, FMC Lexington Warden Francisco Quintana, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. It will be hand-delivered by a delegation this month followed by a press conference.

Mutulu featured in An Injustice! Mag

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.”

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‘Acupuncture as Revolution’ now available in bookstores!

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.

Check it out at independent booksellers like Left Bank Books!

‘Dope Is Death’ Podcast Dives Deeper into Themes from the Documentary

By the early 1970s, heroin was flooding the streets of New York City. Black and Puerto Rican neighborhoods like Harlem and the South Bronx were hardest hit. This four-part podcast series explores how Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of the late Tupac Shakur, along with members of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America.

Over the course of the 1970s, the Lincoln Detox People’s Program became a fixture of hope in the South Bronx and detoxed thousands of people off of drugs. DOPE IS DEATH explores why this program was considered a threat to the political and social stability of the United States. And how its brightest star, celebrated community activist and healer Dr. Mutulu Shakur, ended up one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted until he was captured and convicted of RICO conspiracy.

Today, Dr. Mutulu Shakur remains incarcerated. Civil rights hero or enemy of the state? DOPE IS DEATH dives deep into the history of COINTELPRO and other legal tools that law enforcement can utilize to repress political dissidents.

Listen online at dopeisdeath.com/ or wherever you get your podcasts!