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Assata: An Autobiography Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur
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“People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Before going back to college, i knew i didn't want to be an intellectual, spending my life in books and libraries without knowing what the hell is going on in the streets. Theory without practice is just as incomplete as practice without theory. The two have to go together.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Don’t you know that slavery was outlawed?”
“No,” the guard said, “you’re wrong. Slavery was outlawed with the exception of prisons. Slavery is legal in prisons.”
I looked it up and sure enough, she was right. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution says:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Well, that explained a lot of things. That explained why jails and prisons all over the country are filled to the brim with Black and Third World people, why so many Black people can’t find a job on the streets and are forced to survive the best way they know how. Once you’re in prison, there are plenty of jobs, and, if you don’t want to work, they beat you up and throw you in a hole. If every state had to pay workers to do the jobs prisoners are forced to do, the salaries would amount to billions… Prisons are a profitable business. They are a way of legally perpetuating slavery. In every state more and more prisons are being built and even more are on the drawing board. Who are they for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Dreams and reality are opposites. Action synthesizes them.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“The rulers of this country have always considered their property more important than our lives.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“You died.
I cried.
And kept on getting up.
A little slower.
And a lot more deadly.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“No movement can survive unless it is constantly growing and changing with the times. If it isn't growing, if it's stagnant, and without the support of the people, no movement for liberation can exist, no matter how correct its analysis of the situation is. That's why political work and organizing are so important. Unless you are addressing the issues people are concerned about and contributing positive direction, they'll never support you. The first thing the enemy tries to do is isolate revolutionaries from the masses of people, making us horrible and hideous monsters so that our people will hate us.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“I have declared war on the rich who prosper on our poverty, the politicians who lie to us with smiling faces, and all the mindless, heartless, robots who protect them and their property.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“The schools we go to are reflections of the society that created them. Nobody is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Schools in amerika are interested in brainwashing people with amerikanism, giving them a little bit of education, and training them in skills needed to fill the positions the capitalist system requires. As long as we expect amerika's schools to educate us, we will remain ignorant.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“What kind of justice is this?
Where the poor go to prison and the rich go free.
Where witnesses are rented, bought, or bribed.
Where people are tried not because of any criminal actions but because of their political beliefs.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“We’re taught at such an early age to be against the communists, yet most of us don’t have the faintest idea what communism is. Only a fool lets somebody else tell him who his enemy is.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“I am about life. I’m gonna live as hard as i can and as full as i can until i die. And i’m not letting these parasites, these oppressors, these greedy racist swine make me kill my children in my mind, before they are even born.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Only a fool lets somebody else tell him who his enemy is.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“If you are deaf, dumb, and blind to what’s happening in the world, you’re under no obligation to do anything. But if you know what’s happening and you don’t do anything but sit on your ass, then you’re nothing but a punk.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“I believe in living.
I believe in birth.
I believe in the sweat of love
and in the fire of truth.

And i believe that a lost ship,
steered by tired, seasick sailors,
can still be guided him
to port.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“When Black people seriously organize and take up arms to fight for our liberation, there will be a lot of white people who will drop dead from no other reason than their own guilt and fear.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“All you have to do is ask yourselves, who controls the government? And who are the victims of that control?”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“People are tried and convicted in the newspapers and on television before they ever see a courtroom.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Throughout amerika's history, people have been imprisoned because of their political beliefs and charged with criminal acts in order to justify that imprisonment.

Those who have dared to speak out against the injustices in this country, both Black and white, have paid dearly for their courage, sometimes with their lives.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“And it is that one percent, the heads of large corporations, who control the policies of news media and determine what you and I hear on radio, read in the newspapers, see on television. It is more important for us to think about where the media gets its information.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“In the long run, the people are our only appeal. The only ones who can free us are ourselves.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Constructive criticism and self-criticism are extremely important for any revolutionary organization. Without them, people tend to drown in their mistakes, not learn from them.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Only the strong go crazy. The weak just go along.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Abraham Lincoln was in no way whatsoever a friend of Black people. He had little concern for our plight. In his famous reply to editor Horace Greeley in August, 1862, he openly stated: My paramount objective in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it and if i could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“Too many people in the U.S. support death and destruction without being aware of it. They indirectly support the killing our people without ever having to look at the corpses”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“While big corporations make huge, tax-free profits, taxes for the everyday working person skyrocket. While politicians take free trips around the world, those same politicians cut back food stamps for the poor. While politicians increase their salaries, millions of people are being laid off. This city is on the brink of bankruptcy, and yet hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent on this trial. I do not understand a government so willing to spend millions of dollars on arms, to explore outer space, even the planet Jupiter, and at the same time close down day care centers and fire stations.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography
“My energy just couldn’t stop dancing. I was caught up in the music of struggle, and i wanted to dance.”
Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography

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