Afeni Shakur, activist and mother of the late Hip Hop luminary 2Pac, passed away on May 2, 2016 after going into cardiac arrest at her Sausalito, California home. As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and her son was no different.
Born as Alice Faye Williams in Lumberton, North Carolina on January 10, 1947, Afeni changed her name when she was 21, with Afeni being the Yoruba word for “lover of people” and Shakur being Arabic for “thankful.” At the time, she’d made the move to Harlem where she ultimately joined the Black Panther Party.
Through her activism, Afeni eventually became a section leader of the Harlem chapter. In April 1968, she and 20 other members of the Black Panther Party were arrested after being accused of conspiring with other members of the same party to carry out a series of New York City bombings.
Pregnant with 2Pac and facing a 300-year prison sentence, Afeni opted to represent herself in court and earned all 21 of them an acquittal. ‘Pac was born a few months later in June 1971.
As the story goes, ‘Pac became one of Hip Hop’s most celebrated MCs during the 25 short years he was on this earth. On September 7, 1996, 2Pac was gunned down at a Las Vegas intersection while stopped at a red light. He died six days later at the Las Vegas Medical Center.
In the wake of his death, Afeni established the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, vowing to carry on her famous son’s legacy. She was instrumental in setting up youth art programs and a Performing Arts Day Camp for kids between the ages of 12 to 18, although she sold it shortly before her death.
Afeni’s memorial , which was held at the House of the Lord Church in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood, brought out approximately 150 mourners, including former Black Panthers.
A member of the Queens chapter, Pamela “TJ” Hanna, told the Daily News, “Tupac got his inspiration from his mother and her comrades. He was raised by a specific group of people who had revolutionary ideas. That’s what made him so special.”
Afeni was 69 at the time of her death.