Editor’s note: for Black August 2022 we share both a facsimile PDF as well as a transcription of Safiya Bukhari‘s 1981 pamphlet Lest We Forget, which she wrote and published while incarcerated at the Virginia Correctional Center for Women.
Constantly people of color are confronted with the reality that death is our ever-present companion. We’ve had to live with the conditions that make us more prone to high blood-pressure, diabetes, high infant mortality, strokes, heart attacks, etc., for so long that we see these things as part of our heritage. It has become commonplace to hear that someone known to us or related to us was killed in an argument, gambling, or trying to take someone off. Even more commonplace is our spending our lives in the living death of prison.
We’re not shocked or surprised by this. In fact we’ve become complacent with this as the status quo. We’ve begun to plod along, waiting for our number to come up. On a very real level we are the walking dead: people without a future and with an extremely chaotic past. We have been aimlessly wandering through life, purposeless, directionless—slaves to other people’s whims, ideas, and desires.
Through history, voices rose out of and above the quagmire and declared themselves men and women. Human beings with souls, who wanted to know how it felt to be free and live outside the shadow of death. Cinque, Nat Turner, Gabriel Prosser, Harriet Tubman, Denmark Vesey—men and women who lived and died to the tune of “Oh freedom, Oh freedom, Oh freedom in my heart. Before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free.”
There is no equivocation when we recall those heroes. Why? Because it’s safe to remember them. They are far removed from our day and time, so we can glory in their battles and victories vicariously with no threat to us.
While we are busy recanting the glory of our long dead heroes, new heroes are going forth into battled to carry our struggle for dignity, freedom, independence, and humanity one step closer to reality in the spirit of Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die”:
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us through dead!
O kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall dying, but fighting back!
The past thirty years have seen some doors crack for Blacks and other people of color in America. These changes didn’t occur in a vacuum. They were political moves in an attempt to undermine the rising tide of Black unrest and our demands for civil and human rights. No concrete changes in the very real condition of Black people occurred. We’re still at the bottom of the totem pole.
With the advent of the twentieth century the Black man in American began to take a decided shift away from quiet acquiescence to our plight. We had begun, in massive numbers, to say, “No More.” Our leaders—Marcus Garvey, Elijah Muhammad, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X—articulated the determination of our people to wait no longer for the realization of people of African descent as human beings in the eyes of mankind.
The twentieth century became the time to take a stand. Four hundred years of racist oppression and economic exploitation were enough. Not one more century. Not one more generation without a collective, organized resistance. “Either/or” became the battle cry. America was put on notice: the choice is the ballot or the bullet!
Realizing that no concessions would be gained without a fight, brothers and sisters determined to lay down their very lives, if it became necessary, to achieve our freedom. The following is a chronicle of those unsung heroes who have given the only thing that was theirs to give—their lives!
A People’s War of Liberation is like the points of a starfish. When a soldier (guerilla) dies, another grows and takes his or her place in the struggle, or in the body of the army.
Here are some of those fallen:
Arthur Morris. Member of the Southern California chapter, Los Angeles Branch, of the Black Panther Party. Arthur was the first member of the Black Panther Party to die in the struggle for Black liberation. ASSASSINATED March 1968.
Bobby James Hutton. Affectionately known as Lil’ Bobby Hutton, born April 25, 1950. He was the first person to join the Black Panther Party. He joined when he was sixteen when the Party was founded in 1966. He served as finance coordinator. He was one of the Panthers arrested on May 2, 1967, at the Sacramento legislature protest where Bobby Seale read the Party’s position on self-defense for oppressed people (Executive Mandate No.1). Bobby was murdered two days after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., by dozens of Oakland police. He was unarmed, but with utmost courage, sacrificed his life so others might live. ASSASSINATED April 6, 1968.
Steve Bartholomew, twenty-one; Robert Lawrence, twenty-two; and Tommy Lewis, eighteen. They were riding in a car when they noticed they were being followed by a Los Angeles police squad car. They stopped at a gas station so that any incident could be witnessed. The squad car stopped also. As Steve was getting out of the car a volley of police gunfire killed him instantly. The Panthers returned fire and Robert was killed. Tommy died later at a Los Angeles Central Receiving Hospital from peritonitis (severe intestinal inflammation) caused by stomach wounds and loss of blood. ASSASSINATED August 25, 1968.
Nathaniel Clark. Member of the Los Angeles Branch of the Black Panther Party and a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. Killed as he slept. ASSASSINATED September 12, 1968.
Welton Armstead. Member of the Seattle, Washington Branch of the Black Panther Party and a student at the University of California, Los Angeles. Killed as he slept. ASSASSINATED October 15, 1968.
Sidney Miller. Twenty-two days after the Seattle police murdered Welton Armstead, a white Seattle businessman murdered Sidney Miller, twenty-one years old. He was shot point blank in the head as he was leaving a west Seattle grocery store. The owner said he “thought” Sidney was about to rob the store. ASSASSINATED November 7, 1968.
Frank Diggs. Los Angeles chapter, Black Panther Party, forty years old. Frank was shot to death and left in an alley on the outskirts of Los Angeles by unknown assailants. ASSASSINATED December 30, 1968.
Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter. Came from the streets of LA, where he was “the Mayor of the Ghetto.” He became the organizer and driving force for the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party, the first chapter of the Party outside of the Bay area. Before coming to the Party Bunchy had been a member of the Slausons, one of the largest gangs in LA. The sum total of his life experiences imbued Bunchy with a revolutionary fervor and commitment, which he expressed as follows:
Black Mother, I must confess that I still breathe
Though you are not yet free….
For a slave of natural death who dies
Can’t balance out two dead flies.
I’d rather live without the shame
A bullet lodges within my brain
If I were not to reach my goal
Let bleeding cancer torment my soul.
Bunchy was shot from behind and killed on the steps of UCLA while organizing and educating Black students around self-determination and student control of the Black student unions in preparation for community control. Though the fingers that pulled the trigger on Bunchy were members of Ron Karenga’s US organization, in the final analysis, Bunchy’s death is the responsibility of the racist American government. ASSASSINATED January 17, 1969.
John Jerome Huggins. Born in New Haven, Connecticut. John and his wife Ericka, became members of the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party soon after it’s doors opened. Together with Bunchy Carter, John, as deputy minister of information, provided the leadership needed as that chapter grew. The assassination of Bunchy and John, on the steps of UCLA, by members of the US organization was part of the COINTELPRO strategy to foment a war between the Black Panther Party and the US organization so they would kill each other off. Bunchy and John ASSASSINATED January 17, 1969.
Alex Rackley. Member of the New York chapter, Harlem Branch, of the Black Panther Party. Alex was killed by George Sams, a police agent who infiltrated the Party. He was shot through the head and heart in New Haven, Connecticut. The New Haven Police Department also had an informer on the scene at the Sams-engineered-and-ordered execution, but no effort was made to prevent it. ASSASSINATED May 21, 1969.
John Savage. In the aftermath of the assassinations of Bunchy and John, relationships between the Black Panther Party (BPP) and US grew increasingly tense. On Friday, May 23, 1969, John Savage and another Party member, Jeffrey Jennings, were walking toward the Party office in San Diego, California, when they met a US member named “Tambozi.” As they walked past, Tambozi grabbed John Savage by the shoulder, jammed a .38 automatic to the back of his neck and pulled the trigger. John, age twenty-four, died instantly. ASSASSINATED May 23,1969.
Sylvester Bell. Less than three months after the assassination of John Savage, US struck again. Sylvester Bell became the fourth member of the Black Panther Party murdered in cold blood by Karenga’s men. Sylvester’s murder came at a time when the AL trial of US members for the assassination of Bunchy and John had just begun—an attempt to intimidate witnesses at the trial. Sylvester was thirty-four years old. ASSASSINATED August 15, 1969.
Larry Roberson. On the morning of July 14, 1969, Larry Roberson, twenty years old, and Grady “Slim” Moore, members of the Chicago Branch of the Black Panther Party, noticed police harassing a group of elderly Black men, forcing them to line up against a wall, and they went to investigate. An argument ensued and without hesitation the police pulled their guns and started shooting. Larry was critically wounded in his stomach, thigh, and leg. (Grady Moore escaped uninjured.)
Larry managed to wound two of his assailants. He was taken to Cook County Hospital and placed under police guard. He was harassed, threatened, and periodically beaten. He died in the hospital. Because Larry placed himself between the oppressor and his people without thought for his own life, Fred Hampton said, “Larry Roberson was too revolutionary proletarian intoxicated to be astronomically intimidated.” ASSASSINATED September 4, 1969.
Walter “Toure” Pope. As soon as he was released by the California Youth Authority from Tracy, California, Walter joined the Black Panther Party. Toure, twenty years old, was singled out for constant harassment y the Los Angeles Police department because of his effectiveness as distribution manager of the Black Panther Community News Service in Southern California. In three months he increased the circulation from fifteen hundred a week to over seven thousand a week. Walter was brutally gunned down in broad daylight as he left a store where he had just dropped off some newspapers. According to eyewitness reports, the police suddenly came upon him and opened fire. Toure never had a chance. ASSASSINATED October 18, 1969.
Spurgeon Winters. “Jake” was an honor student in school and a revolutionist. He worked on the Chicago chapters Breakfast Program and the free health clinic and was part of the education cadre. He was killed when one hundred policemen opened fire on him and Lance Bell, who was wounded. Three policemen were killed and seven wounded in the attack on the deserted building where the two took refuge. Jake was nineteen. ASSASSINATED November 13, 1969.
Mark Clark. Mark was a defense captain for the Peoria, Illinois, branch of the BPP. He made frequent trips to Chicago to confer with the leadership of the Party’s chapter there in order to help him organize in downstate Peoria. Mark made one such trip in December of 1969 and stayed at Fred Hampton’s apartment. Chicago police raided Fred’s apartment on the morning of December 4. Mark was murdered by the raiders as they crashed through the apartment door. He was shot through the heart. Several other occupants were wounded by indiscriminate police gunfire. Mark Clark was twenty-two. ASSASSINATED December 4, 1969.
Fred Hampton. The name Fred Hampton has secured a permanent place in the annals of the people’s struggle, because, sadly enough, this was one of the hundreds of thousands of Black deaths American chose to publicize. A young outspoken critic of America’s treatment of Black and poor people, Fred’s dedication to the cause of freedom led him and others to organize in Chicago. The organizational and speaking abilities of Fred Hampton won for him national attention. Political persecution of Fred Hampton included numerous false arrests. He was convicted of a seventy-dollar ice cream truck robbery in 1969, but community pressure forced his release. Such persecution culminated on December 4, 1969 at four o’clock in the morning, when a raiding party of Chicago police invaded Fred’s apartment and shot him several times as he slept. He was twenty-one years old. The Black community lost a beautiful warrior for human dignity, but Fred often said, “You can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill the revolution.” ASSASSINATED December 4, 1969.
Sterling Jones. Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were only days in their graves when the Chicago Police Department struck again. On Christmas Day, Sterling Jones, seventeen, a member of the Illinois chapter, respond to a knock at his family’s apartment door. As Sterling opened the door, he was shot directly in the face by an unknown assailant. The bullet killed him and his assailant fled into the night. ASSASSINATED December 25, 1969.
Jonathan Jackson. On August 7, 1970, a young Black man entered the Marin County Courthouse in California. The events that followed came to be called the August 7 Movement. Jonathan had walked into the courthouse where San Quentin prison inmate James McClain was defending himself against charges of assaulting a prison guard. Also present were two inmates serving as witnesses on behalf of McClain. They were William Christmas and Ruchell Magee. Jonathan interrupted the court proceedings, stating, “We are revolutionary justice,” then gave weapons to McClain, Christmas, and Magee. They all left the courtroom. Several jurors, the prosecutor, and the judge were also taken. Within minutes the van that Jonathan and party had gotten into was riddled with bullets from the guns of San Quentin guards and other state gents, who disregarded the lives of not only Jonathan Jackson and the three inmates, but also those of the jurors, judge, and prosecutor. When the shooting ended, Jonathan Jackson lay dead, as did William Christmas, James McClain and the Marin County judge. George Jackson summed up his brothers heroic actions in this way: “Man-child, Black man-child with a machine gun in hand, he was free for awhile. I guess that’s more than most of us can expect.”
Carl Hampton. Brother Carl was chairman (coordinator) of the People’s Party II, a revolutionary organization in Houston, Texas. Carl was the motivating force of the small organization, which followed the example and the policies of the BPP. At the time the Party was not organizing in the South, so Carl, seeing the need for a party that would serve the people’s needs and desires, started the People’s Party, which sold the BPP newspaper. Culminating a series of incidents on July 28, 1970, Houston police surrounded the Dowling Street area where the People’s Party II office as located and attacked the entire community. Carl was killed at two a.m. in defense of the community.
Fred Bennett. Pieces of the body of Fred Bennett were found in April 1971, in a mountainous region near Oakland, California. Fred had been the coordinator of the East Oakland branch of the BPP and had been a Party member for three years, having joined in early 1968. Fred’s body was mutilated when the police claimed they “found” him. They held onto Fred’s body without announcement for more than two months. ASSASSINATED February 1971.
Ralph Featherstone and Che Payne. Killed by a car bomb outside a Maryland courthouse where Rap brown was scheduled for a hearing. ASSASSINATED March 9, 1970.
Babatunde X Omarwali. A member of the Illinois chapter of the BPP, Babatunde was a shining example of our many revolutionary brothers who have turned from being used as Black cannon fodder by the US military to become dedicated soldiers in service to the oppressed community as Black liberation fighters. Babatunde joined the Party in Chicago after serving two years in the US army, and he quickly became one of the Party’s best organizers. In the summer of 1970, he had just returned to Chicago from the Cairo-Carbondale area, after organizing a National Committee to Combat Fascism (NCCF) office there. On July 27, twenty-six-year-old Babatunde’s remains were “found” lying across railroad tracks in a deserted area of the city by Chicago police. They claimed that Babatunde had been attempting to destroy the tracks and that the bomb went off prematurely killing him. Although mutilated beyond recognition, the body of “Black Panther Babatunde X Omarwali” was positively identified by the Chicago police. They could do so because it was the police themselves who murdered him and laced his body on the railroad tracks. ASSASSINATED July 27, 1970.
Robert Webb. Deputy minister of defense of the BPP. Spent years organizing coast to coast, building the discipline and security of the Party and community in preparation for liberation. When it became apparent that there were corrupt forces operating within the BPP, Robert took a stand for principles first. That stand was to bring about his death on March 8, 1971.
Sam Napier. Circulation manager, BPP. Lived and breathed the Black Panther newspaper. He would constantly intone, “Circulated to educate to liberate.” Sam was another casualty of the internal split of the BPP. Fanon talked of the contradictions in Wretched of the Earth when he referred to colonial war and mental disorders. Oftentimes we lose sight of who our real enemies are and give ben to our emotional responses. In the deaths of Robert Webb and Sam Napier, the people’s liberation struggle lost two of its staunchest supporters. Psychologically, COINTELPRO scored a bull’s eye. Sam died April 17, 1971.
George Jackson. George Jackson spent the last eleven years of his life behind prison walls, seven of them in solitary confinement. During his imprisonment, George attained an extraordinary level of revolutionary political consciousness. He was appointed field marshal of the Black Panther Party. He was an eloquent writer. He authored two important books: Soledad Brother and Blood in My Eye. The latter was completed shortly before his assassination. On August 21, 1971, nameless guards of California’s San Quentin prison assassinated George Jackson. They said he was trying to escape, but the brothers inside said that George gave his lie to save the lives of others. The people of the oppressed communities of the world know that the San Quentin prison officials carried out a premeditated plan to silence a voice that was so full of revolutionary humanism they could no longer bear it.
Harold Russell. The first Black Liberation Army member to be slain. The BLA—the people’s liberation army—boldly declared themselves to be soldiers fighting against the oppressive regime of the US government. Harold was killed in a shootout on 122nd Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues in Harlem, New York. Prior to becoming a member of the BLA, Harold had been a member of the Brooklyn Branch of the BPP. SLAIN IN COMBAT spring 1971.
Sandra Pratt. Wife of Geronimo. Known as Red to her comrades and friends. The death of Sandra was especially heartfelt because of its senselessness, bestiality, and brutality. The sister was pregnant with new lifeblood for the people’s struggle. The reactionary forces that slew the sister mutilated her and placed her body in a mattress cover and dumped her in an intersection in Los Angeles. ASSASSINATED fall 1971.
Frank Fields. Known to his comrades as Heavy, a member of the Olugbala tribe of the BLA. Open war had been declared between the US government and the BLA. Frank was killed in one of the FBI’s search-and-destroy missions in Florida. SLAIN IN COMBAT December 31, 1971.
Ronald Carter. The response of the government to the BLA was to close ranks and consolidate their forces. For the first time they realized that every act of aggression they launched upon the Black community would be met with an act of revolutionary justice. He FBI launched a nationwide manhunt for BLA soldiers and ordered them killed on sight. Ronald was killed in one of these confrontations in St. Louis, Missouri. SLAIN IN COMBAT February 15, 1972.
Joseph Waddell. Joseph Waddell, or “Joe-Dell,” joined the BPP in September 1970 while in the city jail in High Point, North Carolina. Before going to jail, he had functioned as a community worker. Joe-Dell was transferred to Central prison in Raleigh, North Carolina, and because of his revolutionary posture, he was frequently beaten by prison guards. On June 13, 1972, twenty-one-year-old Joseph Waddell was pronounced dead by prison officials. They said the cause of death was a heart attack. Joe-Dell was physically healthy before his death and had never suffered from heart troubles before. Prison inmates close to Joe-Dell said he was the victim of the prison authorities, who had probably drugged or poisoned him to induce the attack. Joe-Dell’ internal organs were removed by prison authorities before they released his body to his family.
Anthony White. Known affectionately and in struggle as Kimu Olugbala. Kimu had been captured and seriously injured in the process, but his spirit had not been broken. While incarcerated at the infamous Tombs (the Manhattan House of Detention for Men) in New York he escaped to rejoin his comrades in struggle. On Monday, January 22, 1973, Kimu was killed in a shootout with New York police, choosing death over slavery. SLAIN IN COMBAT January 22, 1973.
Woodie Greene. Known in the struggle as Changa Olugbala. All we need to know about Brother Woodie is that he was a warrior in the people’s army. He was a young man who’d once been bound and gagged and caged in the white man’s zoos (jails), and had vowed never to return. He was slain in the same shootout that same the death of Kimu. SLAIN IN COMBAT January 22, 1973.
Mark Essex. Mark became involved in the struggle for Black liberation while still within the US military apparatus. He served as a dental technician in the navy. Upon his release his first stop was at the Harlem office of the BPP. He wanted to learn as much as possible to take home with him to Emporia. Kansas. Mark died valiantly holding off enemy forces in Louisiana. SLAIN IN COMBAT spring 1973.
Zayd Malik Shakur. Known as Dedane Olugbala, Zayd was the minister of information of the New York Black Panther Party. He spent months and years educating the people to what must be done to secure our freedom and liberation. On May 2, Zayd died the way he lived—in combat, resisting the forces of oppression. He was skilled in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike, in which Assata Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were captured. Zayd was a soldier in the people’s liberation army. SLAIN IN COMBAT May 2, 1973.
Twymon Myers. “The elusive Twymon Myers” is what he came to be known as—to the oppressors. To the people he was friend, comrade, and defender. Twymon was no superstar; he just did what had to be done and faded into the night. He cared about everyone, especially the children. He believed that the only way to achieve freedom was to be willing to fight and die for it. If it wasn’t worth fighting for, it wasn’t worth having and you didn’t really want it. On November 14, 1973, a combined force of New York police and FBI agents surrounded Twymon on a Bronx street and opened fire. Eight bullets riddled his body. As he lay dead a police officer stood over him and shot him again in the head. The police rallied in front of the Forty-fourth precinct in celebration. Twymon Myers was a warrior we can all be proud of. SLAIN IN COMBAT November 14, 1973.
Alfred Butler. Known in struggle as Kombozi Amistad. Became a member of the BPP in his youth and functioned out of the New Rochelle, New York office. Kombozi later transferred to the West Coast from whence he went underground to carry the struggle to the next level—the armed struggle—as a member of the BLA. It was in his capacity as a soldier in this formation that he was SLAIN IN COMBAT in Norfolk, Virginia, January 25, 1975.
Timothy Adams. Known to his comrades in arms, friends, and family as Red. Red was critically wounded in a battle with the enemy after attempting to liberate fellow comrades from the infamous Tombs in 1973. For many years he was confined to a wheelchair as a result of these wounds, but his spirit was undaunted. Even though his death came years after the battle, it was directly related. His life, his struggle to overcome, and his death, were a source of inspiration to us all.
Melvin Kearney. Known in struggle as Rema Olugbala, he was a member of the BLA. Rema was killed in a courageous attempt to escape from the Brooklyn House of Detention, when the rope he was climbing down broke. He was twenty-two years old. Even against the overwhelming odds posed by prison officials, Rema never lost his combative spirit. DIED IN COMBAT May 25, 1976.
To Martyr Rema Olugbala, BLA
I make love at a fraction of an inch
Outside my window bars
I make love with freedom
And she invites me to be with her
And she’s right outside my window bars
My love is great
I cherish her
And she’s right outside my window bars
I dance with death
But my mind is set …
We’re going to get it on a fraction of an inch
Outside my window bars
I love you, freedom
I dance with death.
John Clark. Andaliwa was a thirty-year-old Black revolutionary who gave his life in an attempt to escape to freedom. He died in a shootout between prisoners and guards inside Trenton state prison in New Jersey. In that shootout, three guards were injured. John carried on the struggle behind the walls. SLAIN IN COMBAT January 19, 1976.
Mtayari Shabaka Sundiata (Samuel Smith). Became a citizen of record in the Republic of New Afrika in 1968. Mtayari worked among the youth in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville section of Brooklyn. In 1970 he was incarcerated as the result of a shootout with the police. Upon his release, he joined the ranks of the BLA. It was in this capacity as a people’s warrior that he was SLAIN IN COMBAT October 23, 1981.
To those of us who have dedicated our lives to the liberation of Black people, who have dared to say, “We shall have our freedom or the Earth will be leveled by our attempts to gain it,” death is a common occurrence. It is something we had to accept, for we knew that in waging struggle to free ourselves from the chains of slavery our choices were small—either to be jailed, or assassinated—but we had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
We know that where there is struggle there’s sacrifice. The death of our comrades was a sacrifice, for our struggle some deaths are lighter than a feather and others are as weight as a mountain. Everyone one of these deaths is weighty as mountains, for these comrades not only practiced the principles of revolutionary warfare, they taught others to do the same. In their lives and in their deaths they said:
I may—if you wish—lose my livelihood
I may sell my shirt and bed,
I may work as a stone cutter,
A street sweeper, a porter.
I may clean your stores
Or rummage your garbage for food.
I may lay down hungry
O enemy of the sun,
I shall not compromise
And to the last pulse in my veins
I shall resist.
You may take the last strip of my land,
Feed my youth to prison cells.
You may plunder my heritage
You may burn my books, my poems,
Or feed my flesh to the dogs.
You may spread a web of terror
On the roofs of my village,
O enemy of the sun,
I shall not compromise
And to the last pulse in my veins
I shall resist.
You may put out the light in my eyes.
You may deprive me of my mother’s kisses.
You may curse my father, my people.
You may distort my history,
You may deprive my children of a smile
And of life’s necessities.
You may fool my friends with a borrowed face.
You may build walls of hatred around me.
You may glue my eyes to humiliations,
O enemy of the sun.
I shall not compromise
And to the last pulse in my veins
I shall resist.
O enemy of the sun
The decorations are raised at the port
The ejaculations fill the air,
A glow in the hearts,
And in the horizon
A sail is seen
Challenging the wind
And the depths
It is Field Marshal Dedan Kamathi (Mau Mau)
From the sea of loss.
It is the return of the sun,
Of my exiled ones,
And for her sake and his
I shall not compromise
And to the last pulse in my veins
I shall resist,
Postscript: Assata Shakur on the Passing of Safiya Bukhari (1950–2003)
It is with much sadness that I say my last goodbye to Safiya Bukhari. She was my sister, my comrade, and my friend. We met nearly thirty-five years ago, when we were both members of the Black Panther Party in Harlem. Even then, I was impressed by her sincerity, her commitment, and her burning energy. She was a descendant of slaves and she inherited the legacy of neo-slavery. She believed that struggle was the only way that African people in America could rid ourselves of oppression.
As a Black woman struggling in America, she experienced the most vicious forms of racism, sexism, cruelty, and indifference. As a political activist, she was targeted, persecuted, hounded, and harassed. Because of her political activities, she became apolitical prisoner and spent many years in prison. But she continued to believe in freedom, and she continued to fight for it.
In spite of her personal suffering, in spite of chronic, life-threatening illnesses, she continued to struggle. She gave the best that she had to give to our people. She devoted her life, her love, and her best energies to fighting for the liberation of oppressed people. She struggled selflessly, she could be trusted, she was consistent, and she could always be counted to do what needed to be done. She was a soldier, a warrior-woman who did everything she could to free her people and to free political prisoners.
Her absence will be felt. She will be sincerely missed. I have faith that the Ancestors will welcome her, cherish her, and treat her with more love and more kindness that she ever received here on this earth. I pray that her sisters and brothers, who continue to walk on this planet, will honor her memory by continuing her work, by continuing her struggle, and refusing to quit until all oppressed people and all Political Prisoners are free. —August 29, 2003