Assata Shakur: Black Panther, Black Liberation Army Member, Bank Robber, Badass

By | July 8, 2020

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JoAnne Chesimard, A.K.A. Assata Shakur, the reputed "soul" of the Black Liberation Army, being led from Riker's to await trail for the murder of state trooper Werner Foerster. (Getty Images)

Tupac Shakur, the king of '90s West Coast hip-hop, had a reputation for skirting the law. Perhaps he got his rebel attitude from his godmother, JoAnne Deborah Byron Chesimard, who later took the name Assata Shakur. She's an activist, member of the Black Liberation Army, and escaped convicted murderer with a $2 million bounty currently on her head.

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Assata Shakur was born JoAnne Bryon. (

A Troubled Childhood

Assata Shakur was born JoAnne Deborah Byron in Queens in 1947. A rebellious child, she ran away from home several times and ended up living with an aunt. She attended the Borough of Manhattan Community College and then the City College of New York in the 1960s, when she became deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement