Assata Shakur
Adventure Divas
Assata Shakur in exile.

In the sixties and seventies, Assata Shakur, formerly JoAnne Chesimard, was a core member of the Black Panthers, agitating against racism in the U.S. She spent six years in prison for her connection to a shoot-out on a New Jersey turnpike that left one of her companions and a state trooper dead. She escaped from prison, went underground for several years, and re-emerged in Cuba in 1987, where she has lived quietly ever since. Periodically, there are calls for her extradition, but she has remained safely tucked away on the island nation she chose for her exile.

In her autobiography, Assata, she describes her surprise, pleasure — and suspicion — upon first encountering Cubans’ open, friendly nature. She was also struck by the relative racial harmony. She took to the island’s warm, verdant climate, rich culture and revolutionary spirit.

But she acknowledges that life in Cuba isn’t perfect. Today, there are the shortages of food, fuel and other necessities. And, for women, more struggles: Cuba is indisputably macho. As in many other countries, regardless of their professions, Cuban women still face fulltime jobs at home as well. “Those macho attitudes of men — they stick to it,” she says. “It’s going to be a long struggle to get rid of that sexist baggage.”

She is the subject of filmmaker Gloria Rolando’s latest work Eyes of the Rainbow.

From the interview:
“I think that in order to struggle you have to be creative. In my life, creativity has been something that has sustained me; it awoke my spiritual struggle.”

“Part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane. That is more fun, too. That is more loving. It’s really working to create something beautiful.”

“We do not have the right, in the name of social justice, to bore people to death. We have a duty to make what we are doing a people activity, which means acting like people, which means being concerned about people, which means including children.”

Coordinates: Cuba

Assata Shakur

Exiled Activist

We do not have the right, in the name of social justice, to bore people to death.

Read more about Gloria Rolando, who’s film Eyes of the Rainbow, profiles Assata

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