Tupac Shakur’s Aunt: The Original Gangster

Tupac may have thought himself to a badass gangsta, but he had nothing on his Aunt Assata.

JoAnne Byron (later JoAnne Chesimard) was born in New York City where she became a member of the radical Black Panther and the Black Liberation Army, changing her name to Assata Shakur in 1970.  In the spring of 1973, she was wanted on several felony charges when she and two accomplices were stopped by state troopers in Clinton, New Jersey.  Something went very wrong and a gunfight broke out.  One trooper was killed and the other was injured.

Shakur was convicted by first-degree murder and several other charges (bank robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping) and was sent to prison.  But in 1979, she escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersy when three of of BLA friends commandeered a prison van.  Somehow, she made her way to Cuba where she was granted political asylum.  She’s been there ever since.

In May 2005, the FBI classified her as a domestic terrorist.  On May 2, 2013, she was added to the Most Wanted Terrorist list and has a $2 million bounty on her head.

Now THAT’S a gangsta.  (Click on the image for a better look.)



Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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