Home > Interviews > COMING APRIL 18 @ PNR: “On Black Revolutionaries (and Yusef Shakur)”

COMING APRIL 18 @ PNR: “On Black Revolutionaries (and Yusef Shakur)”

Mid-Town Detroit Starbucks, ‎Friday, ‎January ‎27, ‎2017

Yusef Bunchy Shakur

…..I found Shakur seated in the crowded Midtown Starbucks located at the busy intersection of Woodward and Mack (just across the way from Whole Foods Market). He looked placid but seemed resolved, ready to talk and share his thoughts on whatever questions I might ask. Shakur has a supercilious countenance, indistinguishable of any definitive sensibility, which could be quite disarming, perhaps, for someone who isn’t used to his company (but would certainly be impressed by his aplomb). As I continued setting up my microphone, pen and paper, arranged my coffee, shifted the cream and sugar packets, Yusef patiently waited, rubbed his hand across his gray-blotched beard, gazed out the window at people passing up and down the cold, obstreperous Woodward avenue, some darting in and out of Starbucks for coffee, hot cocoa, pastries, or temporary shelter from the unrelenting cold. Shakur wore a snugly fitted, beige-colored skull cap with crescent indents, and a two-toned grey zippered sweat suit with a lighter greyish-colored T-shirt bearing the words “Decent Human.” It seemed a carefully selected t-shirt, an ostentatious gesture, maybe, even, if one could imagine, for instance, Shakur at home standing in the mirror of his bathroom, or at the doorway of his bedroom closet punctiliously deciding what to pull from a mound of T-shirts. This one. This one best describes my motives and intentions. Perhaps that is what Shakur pondered as he stared out the window, rubbing his beard, looking at the mass of people struggle against impetuous winds – folk whose interest he genuinely held at heart. Perhaps he pondered my question of how might we define today’s black revolutionary. I’ve discussed this question with Yusef on many occasions (even on Facebook) and we mostly agree to disagree. “We’re two soldiers of the same struggle,” he once remarked (taking a line from a Nas rap song), “and ultimately we both want the same thing.” I agreed. But times have changed since the last time we spoke about black liberation, the black community, and Shakur’s bookstore – his most radical contribution to Detroit’s black struggle – his fortress and headquarters of operation, his sanctuary from the icy condemnations and darkly masked criticism he sometimes encounter amidst the adversarial embroidery of futile contretemps and rodomontade. Shakur does a lot for the city of Detroit’s invisible class, often committing himself in ways which even the most well-meaning politician will not. “All is needed,” he answered when I asked him about his unflinching efforts toward the revitalization of the black community. I took off my coat and arranged my belongings about the table. I wanted to know more about his revolutionary zeal. “What is a Black Revolutionary? That’s very important,” I said. “That is what must anchor our discussion.”


  1. April 5, 2017 at 10:21 am
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