Prison Radio
Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

Every little girl should know her name. From the bowels of repression and calamity, she came. Wrung poetic lyrics of love from raw pain. From a system designed to break, she remained untamed, gave herself over wholly to our freedom fight. So the pigs tried to assassinate her that night on the Jersey Turnpike alongside Zayd, who they actually slayed. And so the others fled, shot her point blank—hands up, don’t shoot. Her will to live for the people embedded, limbs to root. A true comrade’s sister, she survived the impossible, brutal: a pig by neglect, even in the hospital, where they beat her, tortured, even threatened rape, but she clung to life and do what racists hate—a continuation of a long train of fighting oppression.

 From the earliest age she learns the lessons of resistance, of persistence, of never giving in, of daring to struggle, of deserving to reign. Organized with the Panthers, resisted chauvinist men, recognized our fight was for the future of our children. For the armed struggle, she was all the way down; joined the Black Liberation Army, fought in the underground. They put her in a men’s prison, thought it would break her will, but it made her stronger, turned her mind to steel, where she molded it, honed it, made it razor sharp, so her wit would fit level with her heart. 

Every effort to stop her was doomed to fail, conceived the beautiful child from inside the cell. She embodied the things slavers most fear, the will to war to protect our kids. They thought a cell would stop her, but it wasn’t to be, the love of the people set her free. And surpassed borders to the Cuban isle, where she found the asylum to live free in exile. The meaning of her name fits her to the core: “She who struggles,” Assata Shakur. 

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.