Dr. Mutulu Shakur has been granted parole and will soon be released from prison. Born on August 8, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland, Dr. Shakur has been a political prisoner since 1986 — since the age of 36. He had been denied parole nine times. Nonetheless, during his three-decade imprisonment, Dr. Shakur served as an inspiration for all those who believe in justice and Black liberation and is renowned for his anti-violence work. Dr. Shakur is now an elder and has developed multiple health complications while imprisoned. During these 36 long years, Dr. Shakur was only able to interact with his loving family through prison visits.
Dr. Shakur participated in civil rights struggles as a teenager. Dr. Shakur began organizing within the Black liberation movement first as a member of the Revolutionary Action Movement and then the Republic of New Afrika. Dr. Shakur is a radical healer. He began working with the Lincoln Detox program in the Bronx in 1970. Offering rehabilitation services for heroin addiction, Dr. Shakur and the Lincoln Detox program helped thousands of community members through holistic care including acupuncture.
Dr. Shakur was convicted in 1988 and sentenced to 60 years in prison. At no time was there any evidence that showed Dr. Shakur killed anyone.
Mandatory release for Dr. Shakur was supposed to come in February 2016, but this release date was then pushed back to 2026. The parole commission denied parole in April and October 2016, and a request for clemency from President Obama was also not acted upon. Dr. Shakur was denied parole for a ninth time in January of last year. After his diagnosis with bone cancer, Dr. Shakur’s requests for compassionate release were eventually granted. Because of determined struggle, Dr. Shakur will not have to spend his remaining days inside of a prison.
Dr. Mutulu Shakur once said, “Brothers and sisters involved in our liberation have a right to struggle in order to be free. And because I have been a part of that struggle all my life, I will not capitulate, and distance myself from their right to struggle, in order for me to be free.” Dr. Shakur has always fought for us, healed us, motivated us, agitated for us and remained alongside us — whether he was on the ground or in a prison cell. Dr. Shakur never wavered because of his revolutionary optimism in us to continue the fight for his and all of our freedom.
The capitalist class is waging a violent, isolating war against the poor and working class known as mass incarceration. The United States holds nearly 2 million people behind bars, an increase of over 400% in the past 30 years. The U.S. injustice system has close to 1,600 state prisons and over 100 federal prisons along with thousands of juvenile prisons, local jails and other types of facilities.
Within the mass incarceration system there are hundreds of political prisoners including Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu Jamal, Reverend Joy Powell — and soon to be former political prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur. The Party for Socialism and Liberation joins with all those who demanded his freedom over the many years in celebrating his impending release from prison, and remains committed to continuing the struggle to free all political prisoners.