Shakur is best known for his conviction on racketeering charges following the 1979 prison escape of Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) and the infamous $1.6 million robbery of a Brinks armored truck in New York in which a guard and two police officers were killed. It was later found that an illegal project by the FBI, COINTELPRO, aimed at surveilling, infiltrating, discrediting, and neutralizing what they considered domestic political organizations, like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., had targeted Mutulu as well as many of his comrades. He is currently incarcerated in the United States Penitentiary, Victorville in Adelanto, California for conspiracy to aid bank expropriation, not the actual robbery. He is also the stepfather of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur.
Shakur was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 8, 1950, as Jeral Wayne Williams. At age seven he moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York City with his mother and younger sister. By his late teens, he was politically active with the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and later joined the Republic of New Afrika.
Shakur has six children, four biological (Mopreme, Sekyiwa, Chinua, Ayize) and two stepchildren (Tupac, Nzingha). Long time comrades and friends,. Mutulu married Makini Shakur (née: Hearn) in 1982. They divorced in 2010. They have 2 children, Chinua and Nzingha.
In 1970, Shakur started working with the Lincoln Detox (detoxification) Community (addiction treatment) Program, which offered drug treatment to addicts using acupuncture vs the FDA approved drug methadone. Shakur became certified and licensed to practice acupuncture in the State of California in 1976. Eventually he became the program’s assistant director and remained associated with the program until 1978. He went on to help found and direct the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America (BAAANA) and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture.
Since incarcerated, Shakur founded a New York-based organization named Dare 2 Struggle that released a 10-year anniversary tribute album for Tupac Shakur called A 2Pac Tribute: Dare 2 Struggle in 2006 through music industry veteran Morey Alexander’s First Kut Records and Canadian activist Deejay Ra’s Lyrical Knockout Entertainment. The album features artists such as Mopreme Shakur, Outlawz, and Imaan Faith. As Shakur explains it, the CD was created in order to motivate, inspire, and challenge black people to struggle against their obstacles. He also recorded a radio PSA for Deejay Ra’s “Hip-Hop Literacy” campaign, encouraging reading of books about Tupac. Shakur was interviewed in the Oscar-nominated documentary Tupac: Resurrection, in which he described how he wrote a “Thug Life Handbook” with Tupac, expressing an anti-drug and anti-violence message.
Arrest and Incarceration
In the 1980s, Shakur and Marilyn Buck were indicted on Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges. While at large, on July 23, 1982 he became the 380th person added by the FBI to the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. He was arrested February 12, 1986 in California by the FBI. Shakur and Buck were tried in 1987 and convicted on May 11, 1988.
While in ADX Florence, he was visited by novelist Jonathan Franzen. The visit forms part of Franzen’s essay “Control Units,” which is included in his book of essaysHow to Be Alone, published in 2002. He is also featured on Season 3, Episode 10 of the television show ‘American Gangster’ featured on Centric and BET in 2008. Shakur was also interviewed on-camera while in ADX Florence by documentary filmmaker Lee Lew-Lee. The interview footage can be seen in Lee’s film All Power to the People.Shakur’s first parole date will be held on December 15, 2016.