Stories About Pretty Things

Assata : The Fearsome JoAnne

  • By Alisha Thomas

Assata : The Fearsome JoAnne

Assata means "she who struggles"

My junior year of high school, 2001, a kid in my math class handed me a book, Assata: An Autobiography about Black Panther Assata Shakur. Currently, under political asylum in Cuba, she was arrested and convicted of murder in 1977, on flimsy evidence.  


I read it and never get her story out of my head. (Also, if you know me, I don't read books) I admired her strong will and defiance of the life she was "supposed" to lead, as a black woman in America in the 1960's.

Her journey as a woman traveling through life and through the prison system shook me. I have been using and finding strength through her name ever since.

Coincidentally, she spent her childhood in Wilmington and Carolina Beach

Ruby is also from high school, a much less remarkable story. I made it up. I called myself that in high school - my thought was if I ever started doing graffiti and “tagging” you know with spray paint I would write RUBY, but then I was too much of a weenie to every write on walls. I just wrote it on my notebooks in school and eventually designing clothes and bags with Ruby Assata tags.

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