If Black Lives Matter were a civil rights organization, one would reasonably expect its patron figure to be Martin Luther King, Jr., and its aspiration to be King’s vision of a race-free America where individuals are judged on their merits and not by their skin color. Instead, the revered figure and inspirational icon for Black Lives Matter activists is a designated terrorist and convicted cop killer: Assata Shakur.
In the 1970s Shakur was a member of the Black Liberation Army, a group that robbed banks and murdered police officers to achieve a Marxist revolution. Shakur is still wanted for the 1973 murder of Werner Foerster, a New Jersey state trooper who stopped her for a broken taillight on her car, whereupon she pulled out a gun and shot him. The 34-year-old officer and Vietnam vet was lying wounded on the pavement pleading for his life when Shakur walked over and finished him off, execution-style. Foerster left behind a wife and two young children. Shakur was convicted of the murder but escaped from prison in 1979 with the help of left-wing terrorists, including Susan Rosenberg. With the help of Rosenberg and others, Shakur fled to Communist Cuba, where she has lived as a fugitive for nearly 40 years. After being pardoned by Bill Clinton, Rosenberg went on to become board vice chair of Thousand Currents, the left-wing nonprofit organization that served as Black Lives Matter’s fiscal sponsor from 2016 to 2020.
The dedication page of Patrisse Cullors’s memoir, When They Call You a Terrorist, contains these lines written by Shakur, which allude to the most famous incitement from Marx’s Communist Manifesto:
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.