My first memory of Assata Shakur was the “Wanted” posters all over my
Brooklyn neighborhood. They said her name was Joanne Chesimard, that she was a
killer, an escaped convict, and armed and dangerous. They made her sound like a super-villain, like something out of a comic book. But even then, as a child, I couldn’t believe what I was being told. When I looked at those posters and the mug shot of a slight, brown, high-cheekboned woman with a full afro, I saw someone who looked like she was in my family, an aunt, a mother. She looked like she had soul. Later, as a junior high school
student, when I read her autobiography, Assata, I would discover that not only did she have soul, she also had immeasurable heart, courage and love. And I would come to believe that that very heart and soul she possessed was exactly why Assata Shakur was shot, arrested, framed and convicted of the murder of a New Jersey State Trooper.
Mos Def, an actor and rapper,