Mutulu Shakur was born on August 8, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland as Jeral Wayne Williams. At age seven he moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York City with his mother and younger sister. Shakur’s political and social consciousness began to develop early in his life. His mother suffered not only from being Black and female, but was also blind. These elements constituted Shakur’s first confrontation with the state, while assisting his mother to negotiate through the maze that made up the social service system. Through this experience, Shakur learned that the system did not operate in the interests of Black people and that Black people must control the institutions that affect their lives.
Since the age 16, Dr. Shakur has been a part of the New Afrikan Independence Movement. As a part of this movement Dr. Shakur has been a target of the illegal Counterintelligence Program carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (COINTELPRO). This was a secret police strategy used in the U.S. starting in the 1960′s to destroy and neutralize progressive and revolutionary organizations. It is believed that Dr. Shakur’s resistance to this program led to his arrest and trial.
During the late sixties, Dr. Shakur was politically active and worked with the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a Black Nationalist group which struggled for Black self-determination and socialist change in America. He was also a member of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Afrika which endorsed the founding of an independent New Afrikan (Black) Republic and the establishment of an independent Black state in the southern U.S. Dr. Shakur also worked very closely with the Black Panther Party, supporting his brother Lumumba Shakur and Zayd.
In 1970, Shakur was asked to teach political education to clients of the Lincoln Hospital Detoxification Program. This program was founded by Black and Latino revolutionary youth in the South Bronx, NY. Shortly after starting there, two of his children were badly injured in an auto accident. Looking for alternative treatment, he approached activists of the I Wor Kuen, a revolutionary Chinese organization, that ran a health service for the older Chinese community. An Asian woman who was an acupuncturist cured his children using traditional Chinese Medicine. Discussions with the Chinese and sessions with addicts at Lincoln Detox showed Shakur similarities between the struggles of China against opium addiction which had been brought there by the British colonizers and the struggles in the Black community against the genocidal drug traffic recently revealed to have been orchestrated by the US Central intelligence Agency (CIA).
Shakur attended the Quebec Acupuncture Association where he obtained a Doctorate in Acupuncture. He used his skills to treat narcotics addiction and eventually became Director of the Lincoln Detox Acupuncture Research Unit.
After losing a legal battle with the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation over the control of the Lincoln Hospital Detoxification Program, Dr. Shakur and several other acupuncturists were transferred out of the program in 1978. As is true with many programs and ideas developed by young revolutionaries, the treatment of addiction with acupuncture continues at several public hospital sites in New York City but the names of the pioneers are not mentioned in the official history.
From 1978 to 1982, Dr. Shakur was the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America (BAAANA) and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture. Where, at Lincoln, Dr. Shakur had managed a detox program recognized as the largest and most effective of its kind by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Acupuncture Research Society and the World Academic Society of Acupuncture, at BAAANA he continued his remarkable work and also treated thousands of poor and elderly patients who would otherwise have no access to treatment of this type. Many community leaders, political activists, lawyers and doctors were served by BAAANA and over one hundred medical students were trained in the discipline of acupuncture.
By the late 1970′s Dr. Shakur’s work in acupuncture and drug detoxification was both nationally and internationally known and he was invited to address members of the medical community around the world. Dr. Shakur lectured on his work at many medical conferences, and was invited to the People’s Republic of China. In addition in his work for the Charles Cobb Commission for Racial Justice for the National Council of Churches, he developed their anti-drug program.
In March 1982, Dr. Shakur and 10 others were indicted by a federal grand jury under a set of U.S. conspiracy laws called “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization” (RICO) laws. These conspiracy laws were ostensibly developed to aid the government in its prosecution of organized crime figures; however, they have been used with varying degrees of success against revolutionary organizations. Dr. Shakur was charged with conspiracy and participation in a clandestine paramilitary unit that carried out actual and attempted expropriations from several banks. Eight incidents were alleged to have occurred between December 1976 to October 1981. In addition he was charged with participation in the 1979 prison escape of Assata Shakur, who is now in exile in Cuba (the question of Dr. Shakur being charged with participation when in fact they alleged he masterminded her escape creates the true fact of COINTELPRO). After five years underground, Dr. Shakur was arrested on February 12, 1986. He was supposed to be released in February 2016 but is being held likely for political reasons that violate his rights. His legal team has pending litigation to address the refusal to release him.
Life in Prison:
Dr. Shakur is the father of six children. His son Tupac was assassinated in 1996. He has solid evidence that it was a continuation of COINTELPRO. The F.B.I., the Federal Bureau of Prisons and law enforcement made every effort to keep him separated from his son Tupac.
In 2019, he was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer and has been denied compassionate release by both the BOP and the sentencing judge. His legal team continues to advocate for his release.