Mutulu Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s step-father and an Elder of the Black Liberation Army has passed away, reports the New York Amsterdam News. He was 72.

Jomo Muhammad, a longtime advocate for Shakur’s release from prison and an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement confirmed the political prisoner’s passing.

“Mutulu transitioned free and with his family, thanks to all of us,” Muhammad said of himself and Shakur’s supporters. “That gives our hearts a bit of peace.”

Shakur succumbed to multiple myeloma, an advanced form of bone marrow cancer after being incarcerated for  36 years. In December 2022, he was granted parole from his 60-year prison sentence and was given six months to live. 

Born Jeral Wayne Williams on August 8, 1950, in Baltimore, Maryland, Shakur was raised with his sister in Jamaica, Queens, by his mother, who was blind, per his biography on his website. He joined the New Afrikan Independence Movement at 16 years old and worked with the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM), a Black Nationalist group that promoted ideals of Black self-determination and socialist change nationwide. He would also work closely with the Black Panther Party.

Shakur began to work in addiction counseling and acupuncture, eventually earning a doctorate in acupuncture, and he became certified and licensed to practice acupuncture in California in 1976. He was instrumental in the development of a 5-point auricular acupuncture protocol which is now practiced throughout the world.

He married Afeni Shakur, the mother of Tupac Shakur, in 1975. They had a daughter, Sekyiwa, before divorcing in 1982.

In 1988, Shakur was convicted of orchestrating a group of fellow revolutionaries in a series of armed robberies in New York and Connecticut in 1981 where he received a 60-year prison sentence. He was found guilty of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, bank robbery, armed bank robbery and bank robbery-murder. He was also convicted of aiding Assata Shakur in her escape from a New Jersey prison in 1979.

Since his conviction, Shakur and his supporters have argued that the criminal justice sought to make an example out of him because of his history as a revolutionary activist.

The New Afrikan People’s Organization along with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement paid tribute to Shakur:

“Mutulu’s life was transformative to the many people he organized, healed, mentored and inspired,” the statement reads. “Dr. Mutulu Shakur taught us that ‘people struggle for liberation because they love [the] people.’

We at EBONY extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Mutulu Shakur.