Category Archives: Honoring Dr. Shakur

Rastafarian-Quaker and Dr. Shakur protégé, Jondhi Harrell, fighting for returning citizens in Philly

jondhi“I’m a Rastafarian-Quaker,” said Jondhi Harrell, easing back into his chair at the Friends Center, where the administrative office of Harrell’s nonprofit The Center for Returning Citizens (TCRC) is located.

“I know. It’s weird.”

Maybe at first, but comparisons between the two religions have been drawn before. The Atlantic in 2010 pointed to an excerpt from a 1966 paper on the Rastafari movement. Both Rastafarians and Quakers, the author writes, have notably refused to “modify their beliefs when confronted by a hostile society.”

Much like Jamaican Rastafaris and 17th-century Philadelphia Quakers, Harrell has refused to modify the beliefs he’s come to hold since returning home from prison in 2009. The nonprofit founder spent 25 years incarcerated for armed robbery. Eighteen years were in federal prison, 12 of those were spent “under the tutelage” of Black nationalist Mutulu Shakur.

Shakur’s guidance, Harrell said, created the “foundation” for the man he is, the beliefs he holds and the vision he’s striving to make manifest.

Full Article

Rare Breed Honors Dr. Shakur as Abu

During the summer of 2011, I was reunited with my Abu & life long mentor, Dr. Mutulu Shakur. I had been serving 2 life sentences plus 30 years for conspiracy to possess crack cocaine, none of which were introduced in court nor found upon my person…nevertheless, I was given this time because of my ignorance of the drug laws, my inability to see into my educational, cultural and social background. Many people cannot remember or actually point to a particular individual or group of individuals that has helped them transition out of his or her negative past of immature decisions/choices.  However, this is not my experience. Because for me it was Dr. Shakur who at the alpha of our much need reunion knew that he had to began educating me as to my ignorance, or I would become even more destructive than I was during such time as a teen high school drop-out, drug dealer, and so much more. Continue reading

Former heroin dealer turned social justice advocate inspired by Dr. Shakur

I am the above addressed, Leonard A. Rollock, Jr., also known as Petey or Pete Rollock. I am 65 years young…and what I trust is significant as a former federal prisoner/defendant who spent over 25 years straight in various federal penitentiaries and lower level federal facilities is that I bear witness that inmate intellectuals who genuinely care for others become more efficient minded people at what naturally feeds their spirit…and that is providing service.

I was a former unconscious heroin dealer out of New York and Dr. Mutulu Shakur would have been at odds with my behavior as an enabler to the serious problem of crime and addiction in our community. My being held still, in prison, with a literally 152 and ½ years in concurrent sentences provided space and time to take personal inventory. I was convicted in a RICO heroin conspiracy which charged me with conspiring with the likes of Angelo Ruggiero and Mark Reiter, the infamous John Gotti associates placing me in USP Lewisburg and blessed to cross paths with Dr. Mutulu Shakur. This was in the early 1990’s, not too long after the HBO Special “Doing Time: Life Inside The Big House” was aired, and USP Lewisburg was considered the most violent Federal USP in America.

Continue reading

Religious Leaders Support Clemency for Dr. Shakur

In his own words, Rev. Kamal Hassan firmly believes that, “The church must be engaged in efforts to mend the tear in our social fabric that has caused so many of us to focus solely on our individual needs and ignore the sufferings of others. To be true to our prophetic calling the people of God must act locally for justice, peace, and freedom, while also considering the global implications of our work. We must take seriously the urgent need to participate in the building of a new heaven and a new earth, because in a faithful and relevant church there is hope for the entire world.”  It is through Dr. Shakur’s work for justice, peace and freedom while incarcerated that Rev. Hassan and his wife Makini came to know Dr. Shakur:

I’ve known Dr. Shakur since the 1990’s when invited to support special educational and cultural programs that were organized by Dr. Shakur at Lompoc Prison, where he was incarcerated. His dedication to the encouragement and education of others was evident in those efforts to provide connections between us in the community and those incarcerated. I believe his dedication and commitment has encouraged successful transitions for hundreds who have experienced more meaning and opportunity outside the prison system.

It was his wonderful example that prompted us to ask him to be the godfather of our beloved daughter, Aiyisha. We are grateful for his meaningful expressions of interest and love to our family, and so many others, even while being personally impacted by his incarceration.

Related to Dr. Shakur’s expertise as an acupuncturist, I’ve had the opportunity to experience positive results from acupuncture treatment for chronic health conditions, and I do believe that many in underserved communities would greatly benefit from his expertise and dedication.

Dr. Mutulu Shakur is a highly principled, caring, well respected, is beloved by thousands; and is greatly needed on the “outside,” as we strive to find demonstrable solutions to challenging conditions that disproportionately impact communities of color. In addition, while aging, and experiencing extreme conditions in prison, he has developed chronic health conditions that deserve comprehensive care and support.

It’s past time for Dr. Mutulu Shakur to receive executive clemency, and we ask that this consideration be provided by President Obama as a high priority.

Peace and Blessings,
Makini Hassan

Dr. Shakur Inspires post-Katrina Relief Work

new orleans katrinaEleven years ago today I got in a car in Connecticut and drove 26 hours to New Orleans. It was four months since Katrina and I was heading to the area to volunteer as an EMT with a relief organization founded in the wake of the storm. For six months, I volunteered as a medic at gutting sites as well as an intake provider at a free clinic. For six months, I was worn down by the devastation created by the storm and more so by the underlying social conflicts it magnified. When I got in the car in May of 2006 to return north I felt utterly faithless. Then, on the way out of town, I received a letter from Dr. Mutulu and felt a renewed strength of purpose for the first time since my arrival. “It is important work you are doing,” he wrote. “It is an important place and time.” After a week at home, I drove back to New Orleans and stayed for two more years. That was the first letter I received from Dr. Mutulu.

In the two years that followed, we corresponded regularly, and Dr. Mutulu continued to remind me of the greater purpose of my work there. On days when I felt alone and questioned the motivations of those around me, when I was offered money to leave the work I was doing, when I was surrounded by drugs and violence, his words reminded me “Straight ahead, stiff resistance.” Continue reading

Chaplain IRAS Levi Supports Call for Clemency


I am writing this letter on behalf of Dr. Mutulu Shakur. In 1996, I was hosting a radio program in Atlanta and would receive numerous letters from inmates at Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. I was invited to speak at a program in the prison where I met Dr. Shakur. I had no idea who Dr. Shakur was or knowledge of his history. Soon after my speaking engagement, I was asked to become a chaplain volunteer for the Rastafari community within the prison. I noticed that Dr. Shakur was very active in many programs and had a good relationship with other inmates and staff. An inmate told me that Dr. Shakur was the step-father to the famous rapper Tupac Shakur. This did not impress me because, at the time, I was not a fan of Tupac’s music. What did make me notice Dr. Shakur was the positive programs that he spearheaded while in Atlanta and Coleman, Florida as an inmate. Dr. Shakur would conduct Kwanzaa celebrations, Black history classes, Hip Hop conferences to promote positive music and conflict resolution meetings between staff and inmates.

During one my visits to Atlanta Federal Penitentiary, one of the men in my religious group had a serious conflict with another inmate who was in a gang. The conflict started on the basketball court where the inmate who was in the gang spat on the man from my group. At the time, I was very ignorant to prison life or rules but I knew violence seemed to be in the near future. I witnessed Dr. Shakur bring both men and their representatives to a group meeting in the chapel. Dr. Shakur diffused the situation where both men agreed to respect each other’s space and no violence occurred between the two groups of men. Continue reading

Fellow Prisoner Speaks of Dr. Shakur’s Influence

There is something undeniable about Dr. Mutulu Shakur; he couldn’t hide it even if he wanted to. The beauty of it is that he knows what he has and wastes no effort trying to avoid it. I met Dr. Shakur in 2014 at United States Penitentiary Victorville. To understand the significance of the bond he forged with me, I first must tell you who I am, not the watered down image that I have wasted so much of my life trying to portray.

Continue reading

Amsterdam News Letter to Obama in Support of Clemency

amsterdamnewsThe Amsterdam News posted the following ‘Letter in support of Dr. Shakur’s clemency petition‘:


Dear Mr. President Obama:

We are writing to urge you to commute the sentence of Dr. Mutulu Shakur. He has served more than 30 years in prison for his conviction arising from his participation in the social justice movement of the past century. He is recognized as a leading member of the movement for human rights for African-Americans. Granting Shakur clemency will be an act of grace and healing that is much needed in our racially divided society today.

Shakur is 66 and has served 30-plus years. He has spent these decades behind bars because of his political beliefs and the actions motivated by those beliefs. Shakur was targeted and victimized by the now infamous Counter Intelligence Program as early as 1968. Shakur comes out of a complex and turbulent moment in American history, when civil unrest fractured our country into pieces.

His beliefs center around the desire for fundamental human rights, a desire for equitable laws and policies and a world without racial, gender and class divisions—goals very much like those upheld by the entire movement for civil and human rights, as well as the young people who constitute today’s Black Lives Matter Movement. Shakur has taken full responsibility for his life and actions. He has been a force for peace and for good during the many years of his incarceration, working against violence in the prisons and in his varied communities. He has developed hospice programs for incarcerated elders and created educational curriculums for young prisoners entering prison.

He has for many years publicly suggested that a Truth and Reconciliation Commission of elected officials, faith based and community activists and experts be convened to explore current racial disparities and to seriously address the issues of historical violence and racism through entirely peaceful and democratic processes that rely on the goodwill and good faith of people.

His people and community, his children and his grandchildren want and need him back home.

He has suffered the U.S. Parole Commission’s abuse of its authority. He has been denied parole eight times in a documented discriminatory manner. When he has appeared before the Parole Commission, he has been denied parole based on his use of language in signing his letters “stiff resistance,” a First Amendment right, not a call to arms, as the Parole Commission has misinterpreted, and because he defined himself as a political prisoner during his original trial. Finally, he has been denied parole based on the nature of the crime—something he can never change, and something that was taken into account at sentencing all those years ago.

Shakur has faced serious health challenges and continues to struggle to maintain his own well-being. His health challenges include severe heart disease, advanced diabetes and glaucoma. These conditions are life-threatening and would much better be dealt with outside prison. We do not want to see Shakur die while in custody.

All of his co-defendants have been released and are living and working as fully productive individuals. They are teachers, writers, service providers, counselors and artists.

To grant the release of Shakur would be a stunning and far-reaching act of mercy and love. This action would challenge the existing paradigm of punishment and revenge that has been responsible for so much of our current crisis of mass incarceration. His release would be a great step toward reconciliation. We recall your words when you walked out of Nelson Mandela’s cell in Robben Island: “The world is grateful for the heroes of Robben Island, who remind us that no shackles or cells can match the strength of the human spirit.” We feel the same way about the men and women who fought for us, who to this day are still living behind the walls of America’s prisons. We urge you to take action, correct this long overdue injustice and release Shakur.

Thank you,


We The People in Support of Clemency for Dr. Mutulu Shakur

This letter was given to President Obama and has been endorsed by thousands of people. We are continuing to ask for support by signing his petition at

Louis Griffin Off Death Row with the Help of Dr. Shakur

On December 18, 1997, Louis “Homicide Lou” Griffin was convicted of murdering an individual in Alabama over a drug dispute. By a vote of 10-2, the jury recommended that Griffin be sentenced to death; he was subsequently sentenced to die in Alabama’s electric chair on January 29, 1998. He appealed the conviction and after serving three years on death row, was given a retrial, and was finally acquitted on December 13, 2001.
jailhouse-libraryWhether the issue, topic, or subject is of revolutionary or political prisoner status, because the government has a way of mischaracterizing such titles, I feel it is best to know a person outside of what you may have read. I, myself have had the pleasure of meeting such a person who the government would prefer to never have to acknowledge or describe as a revolutionary or a political prisoner.
In 1998, I was returned to the United States Penitentiary Atlanta after being given a death sentence. I remember standing in the yard amongst others from the east coast, talking about one thing or another when up walked Dr. Mutulu Shakur.
“We need to get together,” he began to say.

Continue reading