Assata Shakur has been living in exile in Cuba since 1979 when she escaped from jail while serving a sentence for the death of a New Jersey state trooper she’s long fought against. As a result, she’s been separated from family and has grandchildren she hasn’t yet met. However, Barack Obama becoming the first sitting U.S. President to go to Cuba and address its people has some thinking now is a time for Shakur’s status to change.

Angela Davis, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz and a former member of the Black Panther Party, appeared on Democracy Now! to speak about her longtime ally and friend. 

You can read a transcript of the entire segment here and excerpts below.

On improved U.S. – Cuban relations affecting Shakur’s status as a fugitive:

“I’ve been involved in the campaign to save Assata’s life for all of those decades. And now, of course, as there are new openings with respect to Cuba, we welcome the end of the embargo, the blockade, but at the same time we have to be attentive to what this might mean for Assata, given that there is $2 million reward on her head, that she has been designated as one of 10 most dangerous terrorists in the country.”

On resolving long-standing issues stemming from the Black Panther Party’s actions:

“Well, yeah, Assata has not seen her grandchildren. It’s horrendous, the extent to which the repression associated with the era of the late 1960s and 1970s continues to this day. And we might also mention the fact that vast numbers of people are still behind bars from that era, members of the Black Panther Party—Mondo we Langa, Ed Rice. My co-defendant, Ruchell Magee, has been in prison for over 50 years. So I think that when we put all of these things together, they create a kind of invitation for increased radical activism for trying to resolve these issues that have been decades in the making.”

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