34 years too long: The case of Political Prisoner Dr. Mutulu Shakur

Talib Shakur displays a powerful portrait of his father, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, painted by Sophia Dawson, young Brooklyn-based artist, whose mission is “to create a narrative art that addresses human and political struggle.”

by Minister of Information JR Valrey

Dr. Mutulu Shakur is a legendary figure in the current-day Black Power/New Afrikan freedom struggle in the U.S. He has been a political prisoner, behind enemy lines, for over three decades. The Hip Hop community will know him most for being the father of legendary rapper Tupac Shakur, as well as being the spiritual and political mentor to Mutulu Olugbala aka M1 of legendary revolutionary rap group dead prez. 

Dr. Mutulu Shakir Vimeo from Creative Designer

I sat down with Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s son Talib Shakur to get an update on one of our longest held political prisoners’ cases. Also remember there are other political prisoners in the U.S., like Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Jalil Muntaquim, Mumia Abu Jamal, Ed Poindexter, Veronza Bowers, Romaine Chip Fitzgerald, Ruchell Magee, Aaron Patterson, Chucky Africa, Leonard Peltier, David Gilbert and more. Stay tuned and support. 

“Excuse me, young man, are you Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s son?” I told the man, “No, I don’t know the man. I’m sorry.”

M.O.I. JR: Who are you to Dr. Mutulu Shakur? And what is the story behind how y’all hooked up? 

Talib: I am his second son. My attribute is Talib “Tyrone” Shakur. I am the executive director of “Truth & Reconciliation: Dr. Mutulu Shakur.” I was born and raised in South Jamaica, Queens. 

Three of Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s children with his daughter in law: from left, Talib Shakur, daughter in law Nichole Shakur, Set Shakur and Mopreme Shakur

All my life I was told that someone else was my father. A man I had never seen nor heard his voice before. As a kid, I was constantly told I looked like a man named Jeral. 

Fast forward to 2015, more than 40 years later, I was riding the train when a man wearing an African garment, who looked to be in his late 60s or early 70s, approached me and asked, “Excuse me, young man, are you Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s son?” I told the man, “No, I don’t know the man. I’m sorry.”

After that encounter, I finally decided to ask my mother who my father is. When I asked my mother, she hesitated, then said: “Yes son, that is your father, Jeral, now known as Dr. Mutulu Shakur. I’m sorry for keeping it from you all these years.”

Jeral was my father’s slave name before he legally changed it to Dr. Mutulu Shakur. Immediately, I typed his name in Google in order to find the address of the prison he was being held in. I wrote to him right away. 

Dr. Mutulu Shakur has been a loving father to his son Mopreme, left, and his stepson Tupac all their lives. He was thrilled to reunite with his third son, Talib, more recently.

A week later I got a letter in the mail from Dr. Mutulu. In the letter he said, “I finally found my son! Here are your family’s names, addresses and phone numbers.” First on the list was Afeni Shakur, Set Shakur, Mopreme Shakur and the list kept going. Those moments of initial contact and greetings with my father are etched into my heart and soul.

M.O.I. JR: Who is Dr. Mutulu Shakur to our movement? 

Talib: Dr. Mutulu Shakur is a New Afrikan (Black) man whose primary work has been in the area of health. He is a doctor of acupuncture and was a co-founder and director of two institutions devoted to improving health care in the Black community.

My father was born on Aug. 8, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland, as Jeral Wayne Williams. At age 7, he moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York City, with his mother and younger sister. 

My father’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 my father’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 he learned that the system did not operate in the interests of Black people.

M.O.I. JR: Why is he known as the Doc? And can you talk about his work with the Lincoln Detox Center in the Bronx?

Talib: In 1970, my father was employed by the Lincoln Detox (detoxification) Community (addiction treatment) Program as a political education instructor. His role evolved to include counseling and treatment of withdrawal symptoms with acupuncture. 

Dr. 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. 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, my father 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 100 medical students were trained in the discipline of acupuncture. By the late 1970s, 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. 

My father 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.

M.O.I. JR: What are some of the details about his case? How long has he been a political prisoner? Can you talk a little bit about how he has maxed out on his sentence years ago?

Talib Shakur displays posters about his dad, Dr. Mutulu Shakur, at a rally for RAPP (Release Aging People in Prison) in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 14, 2020.

Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s case facts

Arrested: Feb. 12, 1986

Charges: Conspiracy to aid bank expropriation. Dr. Shakur was charged with eight counts under the U.S. conspiracy laws known as “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization” or RICO. The U.S. government alleged that my father’s political associates constituted a racketeering enterprise.

Jurisdiction: U.S. Federal Court

Disposition: Conviction on all counts – 60 years imprisonment with a recommendation of no parole.

Case status: All appeals denied. Mandatory parole denied. Petition for reconsideration for mandatory parole denied. Petition for executive clemency filed.

  • No evidence from any electronic telephone interceptions;
  • No evidence from any electronic eavesdropping at premises;
  • No evidence of any fingerprint of appellant Shakur on any weapon represented by the government to be involved in any of the charged crimes;
  • No evidence of any fingerprint of appellant Shakur at any crime scene;
  • No evidence of any fingerprint of appellant Shakur on any immovable object at any house alleged to have been used by the charged criminal enterprise;
  • No evidence of any hair of appellant Shakur at any crime scene;
  • No evidence of any fingerprint or hair of appellant Shakur on any vehicle alleged to have been used by the charged criminal enterprise;
  • No eyewitness identification of appellant Shakur at any crime scene by any third party;
  • No evidence indicating ownership or possession by appellant Shakur of any weapon represented by the government to be involved in any of the charged crimes. In fact, the government’s case rested upon one witness, Tyron Rison, who, the government conceded, murdered a guard at a Bronx bank robbery, and whose deal with the government resulted in his release from prison after six years in jail.

My father was supposed to be released after doing 30 years. He is going on four years past the 30-year mark.

M.O.I. JR: How is the rest of the family, after the passing of Afeni Shakur a few years back?

Dr. Mutulu Shakur, a current day political prisoner

Talib: The family is strong. The passing hit us hard. I was only able to spend time with Queen Afeni twice before she went to hang out with our ancestors. It was my sister Set, who we was really concerned about. Afeni’s passing hit her the hardest. Set use to be around her mother on a regular basis. 

But she is a strong lady like her mother and our father, so no doubt my sister will be just fine. Her brothers and the rest of the family and her close friends are going to make sure of it. 

M.O.I. JR: How could people get involved with the Mutulu Shakur Freedom Campaign?

Talib: You can go to Indiegogo, “Truth & Reconciliation: Dr. Mutulu Shakur,” to watch the promo for the documentary that will be in production this year. The documentary is to help push for his freedom. 

Free Dr. Mutulu Shakur! Free ‘em all!

My father is truly grateful for all of you who have been pushing for his freedom for all of these years. He wants me to tell you all that he don’t take none of you for granted. At this time, he is battling stage three bone marrow cancer, so please keep him in your prayers.

M.O.I. JR: How could people get in touch with and write Dr. Mutulu Shakur directly? 

Talib: Dr. Mutulu Shakur, #83205-012, FMC Lexington, P.O. Box 14500, Lexington, KY 40512.

And one more thing: In a previous story about my father published by the Bay View, the term “stiff resistance” was used. Dr. Shakur no longer uses that term. 

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey, journalist, author and filmmaker, can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com or on Facebook. And tune in to BlockReportTV on YouTube.