THE SHAKUR FAMILY: AFENI SHAKUR
by F. Kenneth Taylor
It was difficult writing this installment of my “Shakur Family” biography series due to the scarcity of available information during the researching process. Nonetheless, I really wanted to write this biography, and felt it was crucial to the overall series, so with no further ado, I give you. . .
Alice Faye Williams, better known as, Afeni Shakur, mother of the late, legendary rap artist, Tupac Amaru Shakur, was born in Lumberton, NC on January 22nd, 1947. Despite popular belief, Tupac was not Afeni’s only child; she also has a daughter, Sekyiwa Shakur. When she was 11 years old, Afeni’s family moved to The Bronx, NY, where she later attended the famous, Visual Performing Arts High School in Manhattan, the same high school Tupac would later attend.
Very little information could be found for the time period from the end of Afeni’s schooling years, to the time she became a member of The Black Panthers. Perhaps one of the most influential experiences that possibly led to Afeni’s enrollment with The Black Panthers was meeting Malcolm Little, affectionately, Malcolm X, shortly after high school, at the age of 19. It was during her tenure with The Black Panthers in which she met and married, Lummumba Shakur. It was also during this time that another member bestowed the name ‘Afeni’, upon her, which means, ‘dear one’ or ‘lover of the people’. Afeni hasn’t been known to comment a great deal about The BPP, but during her speech at the 2008 Dream Reborn Conference in Memphis, TN, she did speak of ‘flaws’ within the movement and says. . . “Without women, there would not have been a Black Panthers.” In 2005, actress/singer/writer, and friend, Jasmine Guy, released a biography detailing Afeni’s tenure with The Black Panthers entitled, “Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary”.
Afeni Speaking at 2008 Dream Reborn Conference
Much like her sister, Assata, and other members of The Shakur Family, the 60s was a troublesome time for Afeni. In 1969, she was imprisoned 11 months at The Women’s House of Detention at Greenwich Village, and facing a countless array of charges. As many of us already know, Afeni became pregnant with Tupac while serving her sentence. During her pregnancy, Afeni would touch her stomach, and has been quoted for stating. . .“This is my Prince. He is going to save the Black Nation.” What many people don’t know is that Afeni represented herself in court and was acquitted on 156 counts and charges, and released from prison shortly before Tupac’s birth (6.16.71).
Afeni has become an engaging and well-respected philanthropist, political activist, and motivational speaker; addressing audiences and the world alike at such functions as the Dream Reborn Conference, where she announced her devotion to Christianity and the importance of God. Since Tupac’s death, Afeni has emerged as a prominent businesswoman in the music industry. She currently heads Amaru Entertainment which has rights to Tupac’s unreleased albums and music. The company was initially founded and managed by Tupac himself shortly before his death. Since his passing, the label has released 8 albums and the Tupac documentary, “Tupac: Resurrection.”
In 1997, Afeni established the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation (TASF), based in Stone Mountain, GA. The TASF is a youth arts center in Tupac’s memory dedicated to the teaching and studying of Drama, Creative Writing, Art and Dance. In 2006 she negotiated and bridged a relationship between the TASF and Nelson Mandela Center in Africa. Between 2003 and 2004 she proceeded in launching and founding the “Makaveli Branded” clothing line, in which profits go to the TASF.
Afeni is truly a new-age pioneer of our day, blazing her own trail, and setting an astounding example for the younger generations to learn and live by. As she once said. . . “It’s important we instill hope in our young people.” We love you too, Afeni. As we examine society today, it’s pretty evident she couldn’t be more right, so let me close with one, final quote. . . “So much healing to be done.”
Ok, I know you’ve been waiting for it – Afeni speaks about Tupac
- “Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary” by Jasmine Guy
- 2008 Dream Reborn Conference Speech