The news of Shakur’s passing was confirmed by activist Kamau Franklin on Twitter, with Franklin stating that he passed away Thursday night (July 6). No immediate cause of death was shared, but Shakur had been suffering from a terminal form of bone marrow cancer among other ailments. At the time of his passing, he was reportedly living with family in Southern California.
The Malcolm X Movement issued a tribute statement on Twitter late Friday morning (July 7), writing: “Comrade Mutulu Shakur: veteran of the Revolutionary Action Movement, Republic of New Afrika & Black Liberation Army leader, fighter and political prisoner of 36yrs passes on to the ancestors. We stay loyal to your path.”
As NewsOne reports, Shakur had only been out of prison since late last year after being granted release by the U.S. Parole Commission. He was serving a sentence of 60 years for his alleged role in the 1981 robbery of a Brink’s truck in Rockland County, New York which resulted in the deaths of two police officers and a Brink’s guard. He was eligible for parole in 2016 after serving 35 years but was repeatedly denied nine times by authorities who even blocked a compassionate release due to his health issues as the COVID-19 pandemic began. It was only after Bureau of Prison doctors determined he had six months to a year to live when his release was granted.
Born Jeral Wayne Williams in Baltimore, Maryland on Aug. 8, 1950, Shakur and his family would move to Jamaica, Queens, New York when he was seven. It was there that he became involved with the Revolutionary Action Movement, and then the Republic of New Africa. He became a powerful figure in the struggle for Black Liberation, working with various groups. He would marry Black Panther Party member Afeni Shakur in 1975, becoming stepfather to her son Tupac and father to his sister, Sekyiwa.
Shakur would also be instrumental in the growing acceptance of acupuncture as a vital wellness treatment in the United States, inspired by his work with the detox program at Lincoln Hospital in 1970, which he would become director of until 1978. Receiving his license to perform acupuncture in the state of California in 1979, he would also found the Black Acupuncture Advisory Association of North America (BAAANA) and the Harlem Institute of Acupuncture.