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By Tamara Curl-Green
I would like to let you know that your story sparked a change in my life. It was frightening and inspiring all at once. My political beliefs were maturing before this point but I’ll never forget the day I became familiar with your story. A senior at my university (I was a sophomore) did a research project entitled “Re-Examining Assata Shakur: Political Terrorist or Political Refugee” that piqued my interests. I started my own research, reading numerous recounts of your trials, learning of the police brutality you endured.
I was appalled and disgusted at the American justice system, but I was uplifted by your spirit and, most importantly, your strength. Because you have to be strong to withstand the things that you withstood. And somehow you managed to retain your humanity and keep your convictions in tact.
I, for one, would not have blamed you if you had broken in the process. But you didn’t. Something in you was strong enough to hold on to your dreams and beliefs in the face of your grim political reality. I still can’t comprehend your strength. Before I learned your story, I had no idea what my grandmother meant when she mentioned “the struggle.” And after, I questioned if I had enough in me to endure one-tenth of what you did. Could I manage to keep my beliefs in the face of torture, solitude, and a hopeless future? I began to question the strength of my ideals, the depth of my love for my people.
And it has made me stronger. Thank you. Thank you for being an inspiration, a teacher, a guide. Thank you for inspiring a critical examination of my beliefs, thank you for teaching me how to love in the face of hatred, and thank you for being a guide through the hopelessness.