Mutulu Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s stepfather, will be released on parole on Dec. 16 after more than 35 years in prison.

The US Parole Commission in October granted a request to release 72-year-old Mutulu, who has several health issues, including stage-3 multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that can affect the bones and kidneys.

He is currently being held at a federal medical center in Lexington, a prison in Kentucky for incarcerated people who require care.

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“There are a lot of tears of joy,” Jomo Muhammad, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, who has been working to free Shakur, said of the decision. “There’s still disbelief because we were steadying ourselves for another denial. Now folks are excited about being able to reunite Mutulu with his family. We were crying together. It’s a long time overdue.”

Shakur was sent to prison following a 1988 conviction for leading a group of revolutionaries in a string of armed robberies in New York and Connecticut, including one that left three people dead.

His supporters consider him to be a “political prisoner.” Over the years, he was denied release several times.

Commission officials told Shakur, “We now find your medical condition renders you so infirm of mind and body that you are no longer physically capable of committing any Federal, State, or local crime.”

Who is Mutulu Shakur?

Former member of the Black Liberation Army, Mutulu Shakur, was politically active as a teen with the Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) and later the black separatist movement the Republic of New Afrika.

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Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 8, 1950, as Jeral Wayne Williams, Mutulu moved to Jamaica, Queens, New York City with his mother and younger sister.

Mutulu was one of several Black Liberation Army members to carry out the 1981 robbery of an armored car. They stole $1.6 million in cash from a Brink’s armored car at the Nanuet Mall.

In 1975, Mutulu married Afeni Shakur— mother of Tupac Shakur. They had a daughter, Sekyiwa. They divorced in 1982.