Marilyn Buck's life was dedicated to battling oppression. She began her anti-racist activism as a teen in Texas, organized against the war in Vietnam, and joined the SDS; with other SDS women she helped to incorporate women's liberation into the organization's politics. She fought for self-determination for all people, and she aligned herself with the Black Liberation Movement. In 1973 she was convicted of purchasing two boxes of handgun ammunition and was given a ten-year sentence. After serving four years in Federal prison in Alderson, West Virginia, she was granted a furlough and did not return. The following eight years she was underground.
In 1985 Marilyn was recaptured and was convicted of conspiracy for the successful escape of Assata Shakur from her New Jersey prison. (Assata remains active from her exile in Cuba). Marilyn and her codefendents Dr. Mutulu Shakur and Sekou Odinga were also convicted of conspiracy to commit "armed bank robbery" in support of the New Afrikan Independence struggle. In 1988 she was given another ten years in the Resistance Conspiracy case, for "conspiracy to protest and alter government policies (the invasion of Grenada, intervention in Central America) through use of violence" against government and military property. She was imprisoned for over thirty years.
Marilyn continued her activism inside of prison. She was deeply involved in cultural and educational activities for all prisoners, and translated for Spanish-speaking women inside. While in prison she contributed articles on prison issues to various journals and anthologies, and she lifted her own voice through poetry for the whole time she was incarcerated. Her poems appeared in anthologies, chapbooks and CDs, and in 2001 she was awarded a PEN American Center poetry prize.
Marilyn was released from prison in 2010 and died shortly after from uterine cancer.