Armanda was born in Marion, Arkansas where she lived until she was 12 years old. She moved to Chicago at the age of 16, via Memphis, TN.

As a child, Armanda loved to use her imagination and loved to cook. Growing up, her aunt used to cook with all natural food and plants. Because of her aunt's example, Armanda used to go outside to pick dandelions and big green leaves and pretend to create a meal for her and her brother. This childhood love for cooking followed her into adulthood when she started her career with the Board of Education as a lunch room attendant.  She retired 23 years later, as the lunch room manager.

Armanda is the mother of Gerald Reed, who was brutally tortured by Chicago police detectives and wrongfully incarcerated in 1990 on two counts of murder.  Gerald was released in 2021, through commutation by Governor Pritzker, but he continues to be targeted & harrassed by the special prosecutor assigned to his case and by members of the CPD.   

Armanda has never been shy to voice her opinion on the injustices within the Chicago Police Department- for decades, she’s been on the front lines protesting not only for her own son, but also victims of police brutality.  In addition to her work with MAMAS, Armanda has organized with the Campaign to Free Incarcerated Survivors of Police Torture (CFIST) to hold the Chicago Police accountable for their actions. 

Armada is passionate about freedom for all people, so much so that she’s been affectionately called “Mama Justice” by her son and other incarcerated individuals in the prison. 

Armanda draws her strength from God and her long-time friend and fellow MAMA, Rosemary Cade.

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To me, activism is about voicing your opinion. The right & the wrong that’s happened in the world today. Hoping that us speaking up about how we feel about it- Change is coming!
Armanda Shackleford

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