On the night of July 6, revolutionary and former political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur passed away at 72. After spending 37 years in prison following the mass suppression of the Black liberation movement of the 1960s and 70s, he was only released in December 2022 after doctors gave him months to live due to his terminal bone cancer.
Different organizers in the contemporary Black liberation movement in the United States have reflected on his passing, and the significance of Shakur’s contributions to the Black working class and working people in general.
“He was a loving father and grandfather, revolutionary acupuncturist, human rights organizer and former political prisoner of war,” wrote the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in a statement.
Mutulu’s life was transformative to the many people he organized, healed, mentored and inspired. Dr. Mutulu Shakur taught us that ‘people struggle for liberation because they love [the] people.’ He will always be remembered for his continued commitment to an independent and socialist New Afrika and for his battle cry, Straight Ahead!
“Dr. Mutulu Shakur, like many of our warriors, clearly understood how our people have been colonized and miseducated, that many have assimilated into the system of white supremacy potentially to the detriment of our peoples survival,” said Jalil Muntaqim, also a Black liberation fighter and former political prisoner, in a statement.
Dr. Mutulu recognized that education and liberation were two important facets of our struggle, having the desire to liberate oneself from being treated less than your inalienable human rights and your divine self demands of you. Dr. Mutulu Shakur was unequivocally about the necessity to engage conditions of oppression by building decolonization programs that serve to liberate people from drug addiction and the trauma of having to navigate over 400 years of white supremacy.
Dr. Shakur was involved in Black liberation organizations such as the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and the Republic of New Afrika, and he also dedicated his life to holistically treating and transforming the lives of working class drug addicts in the radical Lincoln Detox Center.
“Dr. Mutulu Shakur was a giant in Black liberation politics. His leading role in building radical alternative health institutions, his role in literally freeing Assata and as part of the underground, his ability to organize people, made him someone to study and learn from,” Kamau Franklin, community organizer and founder of Community Movement Builders, told Peoples Dispatch. Franklin is referring to Shakur’s alleged role in the escape of another esteemed revolutionary political prisoner, Assata Shakur, to Cuba.
A true revolutionary history of Mutulu has yet to be written, but it needs to be done so that today’s organizers understand whom we just lost.