On 23 March 1953, singer, songwriter and former Black Panther Yvette Marie Stevens, better known as Chaka Khan, was born in Chicago. 

Her stepmother was a civil rights activist, who encouraged Khan to speak up. By the age of 14 she had joined the revolutionary Black Panther Party. A friend of Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton*, she dropped out of high school, spoke at rallies and worked in the organisation’s free breakfast for children program. 

Khan was later given a gun which she held in her room, but she later told Guardian journalist Alexis Petridis: “every moment I had that gun it changed me. I felt physically sick. I threw it away into Botany’s Pond by Chicago University, then I felt better. That finished me with the Panthers.” 

Khan went on to international success in bands and as a solo artist.

From: workingclasshistory.com