Assata: An Autobiography Summary & Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 46-page guide for “Assata: An Autobiography” by Assata Shakur includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 21 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Personal and the Political and Political Education as Alternative Education.
Assata: An Autobiography traces events from Assata Shakur’s early childhood to her political refugee status in Cuba. While the book was first published in 1988, this guide references the 2014 edition of the autobiography, which features a foreword written by Angela Davis and Lennox Hill.
Assata Olugbala Shakur (born “JoAnne Chesimard”) grew up in North Carolina and New York, the rambunctious granddaughter of two strict grandparents in the South and a rebellious daughter to a single mother in the North during a time of racial segregation. Her family taught her about how to survive as a young Black girl in a racist society, lessons that became invaluable when she became more involved with political organizing in her adulthood. She later became a member of the Black Liberation Army and was involved in several Black organizing groups, including the Black Panther Party.
On May 2, 1973, Assata was driving with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli on the New Jersey Turnpike when New Jersey state troopers stopped them. Assata had several warrants for her arrest on charges that included an alleged kidnapping and two bank robberies. The confrontation led to a shootout that resulted in Zayd’s death as well as that of two state troopers. Severely injured, Assata was hospitalized and then incarcerated between 1973 and 1977 for the shooting in addition to the previous criminal charges. For four years, Assata was tortured and kept in solitary confinement while she awaited trial. Throughout the legal process, she was acquitted of all charges in every trial except the New Jersey Turnpike shooting where she was found guilty. With the help of other Black activists, she escaped the maximum-security prison where she was held and remains a political refugee in Cuba.