‘My mama always used to tell me: ‘If you can’t find somethin’ to live for, you best find somethin’ to die for.” -Tupac Shakur
I woke up on the morning of May 4, 2016 to news that you passed away. 2016 has been an emotional rollercoaster and news of your passing sent the world into shock. Although I was not yet born when Tupac passed, I became accustomed to his music very early and it soon began to shape the way I think, act and speak. Eventually, I began searching for the origins of Tupac. Who raised him? Who taught him? Who loved him? I found the answers and for that, all I can say is “Thank you”. Thank you for being a revolutionary, an amazing Black Panther who fought for equity and unification. Thank you for being the epitome of strength. Thank you for giving birth to your son; the greatest gift. Even though I never met you (and I really wanted to), I am deeply grateful and appreciative for all that you did. I am filled with joy knowing that you have been reunited with your Baby boy. I am filled with joy knowing that your legacy is uniquely yours and not solely due to your son. I love both of you.
Thank you Afeni Shakur.
Rest in perfect peace
You Are Appreciated.
As the mother to one of the most iconic and prolific men of our generation, Afeni Shakur passed away from reported cardiac arrest at the age of 69 in her Sausalito, California home. Born Alice Faye Williams, Shakur moved to New York City as a young woman and became a member of the Black Panther movement. It was also there that she was imprisoned along with many other Black Panthers for allegedly plotting to bomb multiple city landmarks.
Throughout that ordeal Afeni gave birth to hip hop’s most polarizing figure Tupac Shakur shortly after being acquitted on all charges and being released on May 1971. She is also the subject of one of the most important songs in pop culture to date, Dear Mama. After her son’s tragic murder, She went on to produce “Holler If Ya Hear Me” which is a Broadway musical surrounded around the iconic music of her late son. She went on to do philantropic work for inner city youth and education. It is undeniable that she has helped cement a legacy that cannot be diminished.
The daughter of Rosa Belle, a homemaker, and Walter Williams, Jr., a trucker, Shakur and her sister, Gloria Jean, had a troubled childhood. “My momma left my dad because he was kickin’ her ass,” Shakur said in a 1997 interview in People magazine. In 1958 Shakur, her mother, and sister moved to New York City, where Shakur attended the Bronx High School of Science. A troubled child, Shakur reported later that she began using cocaine when she was about fifteen years old, and she struggled with drug addiction for most of her life.
Shakur joined the emerging Black Panther movement in 1964, after meeting an associate of Malcolm X who was recruiting among youth in the Bronx. Shakur told biographer Jasmine Guy that the Black Panthers “took my rage and channeled it. They educated my mind and gave me direction.” Shakur began writing articles for the party’s newsletter, the Panther Post, and was largely successful in crafting a misdirection campaign that led FBI agents to believe that the Panther Party was fading. In 1968 Shakur moved in with fellow Panther Lumumba Abdul Shakur and changed her name to Afeni Shakur.
Another strong black woman is gone…But may all the youth look back and be inspired by her wisdom.
Even though Afeni Shakur was introduced to a lot of people through Tupac’s ballad “Dear Mama”, she will be remembered for much more. She joined the Black Panther Party as a teen in 1968. A large part of her fight and legacy was in letting people know how they could use their constitutional rights. She was a political activist, philanthropist, businesswoman and Black Panther. She fought hard to protect her son’s music and legacy. A year after he died, she launched the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation to fulfill his mission of giving young people access to high quality arts programs. She also created Amaru Entertainment/Records, after winning a case against Death Row Records, to release Tupac’s unreleased material. Her work has not gone unnoticed and she will be remembered for leaving a positive impact on the community.
It is important that we all remember that she was not only Tupac’s mother. Afeni Shakur and Assata Shakur, Tupac’s aunt were close comrades. Assata, of course has been dubbed the soul of the Black liberation army. Assata and Afeni played a huge role in the progression of Black liberation.
We salute you Afeni, you are mother, you are strength, you are tragedy you are triumph. You are a staple in hip-hop and pop culture just as your son is and we will forever keep your name alive.
“There’s no way I can pay you back/But the plan is to show you that I understand/You are appreciated,”
♕ RIP Afeni Shakur, Jan 10, 1947 – May 2, 2016
Black Panther, COINTELPRO Survivor, Ab’Orisa and Philanthropist, formerly married to Lumumba Shakur and political prisoner Mutulu Shakur. Mother to Tupac Shakur, Ayize Shakur, Sekiywa Shakur, and Chinua Shakur.