06 6 / 2012

ASSATA: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

I’ve always heard of Assata Shakur but never really knew the circumstances surrounding her escape from the U.S. to Cuba, and since I love reading about the Civil Rights and Black Power/Liberation movements, I added her memoir to my reading list.

I loved her realness and honesty. She doesn’t sugarcoat the truth to make it easier to digest, which is something that I love about memoirs like hers. She also shed a lot of light on her treatment within the prison system and the complete disregard for a fair trial that many of the judges and lawyers subjected her to while in prison. All of it was was absolutely deplorable. I wish more people could read this book just for that information alone.

I adored the poems scattered throughout the book as well. She definitely has a gift.

I do wish she had shined more light on what really happened the night of the murder on the New Jersey turnpike. That is just me being nosey of course, and is something that she absolutely would not be able to do without possibly affecting her freedom or the freedom of her comrades..but that still didn’t stop me from wanting to know the true story behind it. I also wished she’d delved more into her short lived marriage.

There were times throughout the book when she went on rants about American history, straying completely from the topic at hand, which became quite unsettling. At one point, she spent two pages telling of the truth behind Abraham Lincoln emancipating the slaves. It was all well and good, but had nothing to do with the chapter in the book, making the book seem quite disorderly.

Other than that, I enjoyed it. My love for the women within the Black Power Movement (e.g. Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis, Elaine Brown) notwithstanding, I am always intrigued by memoirs based in the 60s and 70s, the two decades that are the most interesting to me in regards to Black life.

Grade: B