The National Black Theatre (NBT), a historic institute for African-American dramatic arts, enriches the hearts of Harlem. Known as a home for cultural events that depict different aspects of the African diaspora, it is also a venue for celebrations that often highlight themes of struggle and liberation.
On Saturday, Nov. 2, the NBT will host the fifth annual Freedom Dance. The celebration will remember a Black woman whose worldwide supporters say bravely gave up her freedom during the Black Liberation Movement. In the proud tradition of civil rights, Freedom Dance honors exiled Black Liberation fighter Assata Shakur, a woman many say carried high the banner of resistance.
On May 2, 1973, Black Panther activist Shakur was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice and then charged with the murder of a police officer. Shakur spent six and a half years in prison, then escaped and fled to Cuba in 1984. Shakur said, “I am a 20th century escaped slave.”
Organizers of this event say that Freedom Dance celebrates the 34 years of her liberation.
“We have seen too many examples of people who were just gunned down, particularly during the Black Liberation Movement of the ’60s and ’70s. Dozens of others have been incarcerated for many decades,” said Freedom Dance Commitee member Soffiyah Elijah.
Elijah says the dance will be an important way to educate people about the continuing oppression of people of color and poor people in this country. “It is important for any people who are struggling for their freedom to never forget the sacrifices of their freedom fighters. Assata Shakur definitely qualifies as one of our freedom fighters,” she said.
The dance begins at 7:30 p.m. and features DJ Lumumba, aka Revolution, on the wheels of steel. All proceeds from Freedom Dance will be donated to support political prisoners held captive in the United States.