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Sacrifice for The Sake of Liberty: "Letter from Atlanta Prison" and "Opening Statement"

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Assata Shakur, is a freedom

We as a community aspire for freedom. Liberty and equality are what we all want in our respective communities, and we have fought for these for decades together. However, we are yet to achieve lete equality and justice in the world, and more specifically in the U.S. People have gone to prisons for fighting for justice and equality and expressing their political beliefs, including freedom fighters such as Marcus Garvey and Assata Shakur. Shakur delivered a speech on the hardships faced by the Black community during her trials, called the “Opening Statement.’’ Similarly, Garvey wrote a letter to his community, talking about the sacrifices he had made for them. Garvey’s “Letter from Atlanta Prison” and Shakur’s “Opening Statement” are both similar because they discuss the unjustified treatment of people of color, especially the discrimination. While the focal point of Shakur’s statement is the political difficulty that the Black community faced in her time, Garvey talks about his fight for equality and his personal sacrifice for the Black community.

Social activist Marcus Garvey was born on August 17th, 1887, in St. Jamaica, Ann’s Bay. Historians consider him to be one of the originators of the Black Nationalist Movement. Garvey was a public speaker for Black nationalism and pan-Africanism. Garvey believed that the Black community would never achieve equality till they gained independence. In 1922, he was charged with mail fraud involving the Black Star Line. He was sentenced to five years in prison. In 1927, he was released from prison and deported to Jamaica. Garvey continued his political activism and the work of the U.N.I.A. in Jamaica. As is evident, Talking about freedom and justice was discouraged in the politically charged environment of the time and people who dared to do so were arrested and incarcerated.” While he was in prison, Garvey wrote a letter to his fellow members of the Black community. He talked about his sacrifice and the dangers that he faced in the fight for equality.

Assata Shakur is a freedom fighter and activist born in New York. She became a student activist and took part in rental strikes, anti-war demonstrations, and protested racial inequality. As a Black radical and member of the Black Liberation Army, Shakur was targeted by the US Government and charged for three bank robberies and the kidnapping and murder of two drug dealers. Because of government mistreatment, she fled from political persecution and was granted sanctuary in Cuba. Because of the racism of the U.S government toward people of color, she was sentenced in jail due to the fact that she participated in the Black Liberation Movement, the student’s rights movement, and the movement to end the Vietnam War. The government did everything in its power to criminalize her. She had been accused of a crime she didn’t commit. During her trial, she read an opening statement on behalf of the people who were talking about the lack of justice, and the hardships that poor people and the Black community faced.

To begin with the similarities between the “Opening Statement by Assata Shakur” and Marcus Garvey’s “Letter From Atlanta Prison,” both mentioned the prejudice and unfairness that society treated people of color. In Shakur’s transcript, she mentions, sitting next to a pregnant woman while watching tv and seeing Nixon pardoned from the crime he committed. She stated, “pardoning of a president who had stolen a million dollars, and who had been responsible for the deaths of thousands of human beings. For what? For peace with honor?” In other words, Nixon was pardoned without ever experiencing jail. Nixon had been forgiven by President Gerald Ford in order to put behind a tragic and disruptive scandal. After all, what about those people who are behind bars for doing nothing? Are they pardoned? No. If you have money, and a connection to power you can do anything you can even buy people. Likewise, Garvey wrote, “ the civilization of today has gone drunk and crazy with its power and by such it seeks through injustice, fraud, and lies to crush the unfortunate.” As an illustration, people who have state power are the ones who corrupt justice. They are the ones who violated the law, making others suffer. They commit crimes without having to go even on trial. Garvey and Shakur both indicate this in their statement and letter: the greater the power, the more the crime, the more the injustice, they corrupt people’s power.

Along the same line, they both tried to end discrimination and segregation toward people of color, Shakur participated in the Black Liberation Movement, and the student’s rights movement. Similarly, Garvey participated in the Black Nationalist Movement. Both of them fought for what we call ‘equality.’ Furthermore, another similarity between“Opening Statement by Assata Shakur” and Marcus Garvey’s “Letter From Atlanta Prison” is that Garvey writes about never giving up on fighting for Black liberty and freedom even though he was jailed. In the same way, Shakur talked about the government’s mistreatment and abuses against the Black communities who were against racism, even though she was in prison, she had never stopped fighting for equality. Garvey addressed his letter to all Black people, and swore that after he get out of jail, he would still fight for liberty and equality, even his enemy wouldn’t be able to stop him. Likewise, Shakur also mentioned how the government, the police, the F.B.I., and the C.I.A. all propelled an all-out war against individuals they considered activists or dissidents and especially or individuals, they considered militant. Incalculable numbers of individuals were either murdered or detained. In the same way, Shakur’s “Opening Statement” and Garvey’s letter talked about what people think of the Black militantism. For example, some believed that the Black Liberation Army, was an extremist organization, even though it was not. The Black Liberation movement was about fighting for equality and justice. People had lost their lives because of racism and people had treated people of color as inferior.

By contrasting “Opening Statement by Assata Shakur” and Marcus Garvey’s “Letter From Atlanta Prison,” it becomes clear that Shakur focuses on what Black communities were going through when they express their political ideals while Garvey focuses on the good deed that he personally did for the Black community. For example, Shakur used to believe that there was justice in this country even though there wasn’t and she also, talked about throughout America’s history individuals have been detained because of their political convictions and charged with criminal acts. Those who challenged to talk out against the injustice acts in this nation, for the same reason that the government has put everybody in prison who talked for justice. While yet, Garvey talked about everything he went through to fight for liberty: “All I have I have given you. I have sacrificed my home and my loving wife for you. I entrust her to your charge, to protect and defend her in my absence. After my enemies are satisfied, in life or death I shall come back to you to serve even as I have served before.” These two statements are completely different because Shakur concentrates on the grief and suffering that those people who are speaking up about their political beliefs went through. After all those people have the right to speak. The Bill of Rights was written for the people to speak up and fought for their rights. I think the Bill of Rights was written for only a certain group of people because a specific group of people’s rights was severely limited. If a certain group of people spoke at this time, they were put in jail but as they would assert speaking is better than being silent because change can only happen when dissent is voiced. Garvey, on the other hand, addressed the sacrifices he made by leaving his wife behind, and penniless, and all this because of his people, because of the Black community, and because of the goal of liberty.

Finally, The last difference between “Opening Statement by Assata Shakur,’’ and Marcus Garvey’s, “Letter From Atlanta Prison,” is Shakur is focused on how the Black Liberation Army has affected the Black communities. However, Garvey speaks symbolically about invoicing innumerable millions of Black slaves to fight for independence. Garvey stated in his letter, “Look for me in the whirlwind or the storm, look for me all around you, for, with God’s grace I shall come and bring with me countless millions of black slaves who have died in America and the West Indies and the millions in Africa to aid you in the fight for liberty, freedom, and life.” Nonetheless, Shakur also talked about, how the thought of the Black Liberation Army force raising conditions in Black communities. Conditions of poverty, lack of unemployment, and lack of education. The thought came around since Black people are not free or equal in these countries. Since 90% of the men and women in this country’s detainment facilities are Black and of the Third World. Because of the Black Liberation Army, arose out of poverty conditions and lack of education and employment. Regardless, both of these texts are unlike in some ways as well, while Shakur describes to us how Black Liberation Army changes the Black communities that are in an awful way because of the government. But Garvey wrote that even if he died in the Atlanta prison, he would come back and still fight for liberty. Which meant liberty, freedom, and justice for all were more important to him.

In conclusion, when it comes to heightening the similarities and differences, both of these pieces letter “Opening Statement” by Assata Shakur and “Letter From Atlanta Prison” by Marcus Garvey both discussed injustice, however, Shakur focuses on systemic prejudice toward the Black communities, whereas Garvey focuses all his efforts that he put to fight liberty for his communities. In both pieces Assata Shakur was depicted as a strong and wise woman, who stands up through a crowd and reads her well-written letter during her trials, fighting for the people and teaching those people who said Black Movement is ‘extremist,’ instead is fighting for liberty and equality. She grew to become dedicated to improving the justice of the Black community, and the removal of inequalities in African American life.

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Sacrifice for the Sake of Liberty: “Letter from Atlanta Prison” and “Opening Statement”. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 26, 2022, from
“Sacrifice for the Sake of Liberty: “Letter from Atlanta Prison” and “Opening Statement”.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022,
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