the podcast

By the early 1970s, heroin was flooding the streets of New York City. Black and Puerto Rican neighbourhoods like Harlem and the South Bronx were hardest hit. This four part podcast series explores how Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of the late Tupac Shakur, along with members of the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America.

Over the course of the 1970s, the Lincoln Detox People’s Program became a fixture of hope in the South Bronx and detoxed thousands of people off of drugs. DOPE IS DEATH explores why this program was considered a threat to the political and social stability of the United States. And how its brightest star, celebrated community activist and healer Dr. Mutulu Shakur, ended up one of the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted until he was captured and convicted of RICO conspiracy.

Today, 34 years later, Dr. Mutulu Shakur remains incarcerated. Civil rights hero or enemy of the state? DOPE IS DEATH dives deep into the history of COINTELPRO and other legal tools that law enforcement can utilize to repress political dissidents.


Episode 1 – Come On, Put The Pins In!

Thousands of individuals across America struggling with opioid and heroin addiction are benefitting from a 5 point ear acupuncture protocol called NADA (National Acupuncture Detox Association). In this first episode of DOPE IS DEATH we talk with Juan Cortez of NYHRE (New York Harm Reduction Educators) about the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating …

Episode 2 – Radical Roots Of Acupuncture

In episode 2 of DOPE IS DEATH activist, professor and author Johanna Fernandez takes us back to the late 1960s and early 1970s during the height of the heroin plague that ravaged Puerto Rican and Black communities in New York City. Drawing from her seminal book on the subject, The Young Lords: A Radical History, Fernandez describes how a coalition of young activists, including members of the …

Episode 3 – Acupuncture Needles – Tools Of Healing Or Rebellion?

The Lincoln Detox program consisted of acupuncture to treat the withdrawal symptoms and political education classes to treat the psychological vulnerabilities associated with drug use. In episode 3 we talk about how political education classes are healing and how acupuncture serves the Black liberation movement with two individuals whose lives were positively …

Episode 4 – Policing The Minds Of The People

How far will the government go to systematically repress political dissidents? In this final episode of DOPE IS DEATH we dive into the details of Dr. Mutulu Shakur’s conviction and why he remains behind bars after 34 years. Longtime comrade of Dr. Shakur, private investigator and former business manager of Tupac Shakur, Watani Tyehimba talks to us about the FBI’s secret COINTELPRO program and how it was designed to interrupt and destroy Black …

a film by
mia donovan

The story of how Dr. Mutulu Shakur, stepfather of Tupac Shakur, along with fellow Black Panthers and the Young Lords, combined community health with radical politics to create the first acupuncture detoxification program in America in 1973 - a visionary project eventually deemed too dangerous to exist.

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dope is death
the podcast

Featuring Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Dr. Mario Wexu, Juan Cortez, Walter Bosque, Johanna Fernandez, Felipe Luciano, Cleo Silvers, Dr. Shadidi Kinsey, Dr. Samuel Kelton Roberts Jr., Haki Kweli Shakur, Watani Tyehimba, Brad Thomson

Written and Hosted by Mia Donovan
Sound Designer Lynne Trepanier
Story Editor and Additional Writing Sarah Musgrave
Sound Mix Simon Plouffe
Additional Narration Lateef Martin
Original Music Ramachandra Borcar
Produced by Mia Donovan and Lynne Trepanier
Supervising Producer Katie McKay
Executive Producer Bob Moore

This podcast was produced by EyeSteelFilm, a documentary production company based in Montreal, Canada.

Created with the financial participation of the Canada Media Fund and Super Channel Entertainment Network