The Surprisingly Revolutionary Legacy of Tupac & Afeni Shakur
Tupac Shakur is most well known as a top-selling "Gangsta Rapper," Actor & entertainer who died too soon in a senseless, media induced rap war. But few know about the legacy of his mother & former Black Panther Afeni Shakur, who was found dead this morning in her Marin County California home. In the wake of her death, hopefully more people will take a closer look into her legacy and it's influence on her legendary son.
It is now well known that Afeni Shakur was a major inspiration for Tupac's music and was the subject of his 1995 hit "Dear Mama." Born Alice Faye Williams, Shakur changed her name as an adult when she became politically active and joined the Black Panther movement. She was pregnant with Tupac in 1971 and incarcerated while she and other Panthers faced conspiracy charges that were later dismissed.
Other of Tupac's revolutionary childhood influences and family include the (rumored soon to be released) political prisoner Matulu Shakur, as well as Assata Shakur; the subject of recent controversy surrounding her longstanding exile in Cuba.
All three of these revolutionary heroes of our recent past were at one time active in the former Black Panther Party for Self Defense, as well as other struggles for both literal and political freedom. It should come as no surprise then, that Tupac was often quite outspoken on a range of political issues facing the African American & Latino population.
In his 1994 prison interview, he says a lot of profound things of interest in this area. Here are just a few:
“Now if we do wanna live the thug life and the gangster life and all that, okay... so stop being cowards and let’s have a revolution. But we don’t wanna do that, dudes just wanna live a "character," they wanna be cartoons. But if they really wanted to do something, if they was that tough; alright let’s start our own country, let’s start a revolution, let’s get out of here, let’s do something. But they don’t wanna do that, they wanna pimp our communities and portray this image that they know we all can’t survive…”
It is vitally important that the youth of today, the one's who know Tupac Amaru Shakur only as the slain Gangster rapper, who's lyrics they recite word for word as they sing along on their Beats headphones & Bluetooth stereos... it is they who most unequivocally need to know the story behind legacy; The struggle of his mother as well as his other noteworthy family members, and the truth behind the misunderstood, Rose that Grew from Concrete himself, known simply to all as "2Pac."
Listen to this rare clip from Tupac sourced by Suraiye for the ending of her track "The Question," discussing his views on the meaning of "true freedom" as gleaned from the influence of his mother,Afeni Shakur.