Sunday Snippet: Afeni Shakur (1947-2016)

“I guarantee that the seed you plant in love, no matter how small, will grow into a mighty tree of refuge. We all want a future for ourselves and we must now care enough to create, nurture and secure a future for our children.”

Earlier this month, Afeni Shakur passed away from an apparent heart attack (the official cause of death has not yet been announced) at the age of 69. She was best known as the mother of legendary rapper Tupac Shakur, a man whose work and music greatly shaped my youth and my perspective on life.

Born Alice Faye Williams in Lumberton, North Carolina, Afeni Shakur was an active member of the Black Panther movement. Indeed, she was actually pregnant with Tupac while she sat in jail, facing conspiracy charges related to New York bombings in 1971. The charges were dismissed just before Tupac was born. Her work as an activist continued after the death of her son in 1996, forming the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation to help fund art programs for young people.

No mother should ever bury her own son. The role of parents, as Afeni Shakur so eloquently states in the quote above, is to plant the seed in love, working to create a better future for their children. And their children’s children. It has been said that the first generation plants the tree so the next generation can enjoy the shade. It’s about all the tomorrows to come and the legacy you can leave behind.

I’ve said before that the most profound life event or life change I have ever experienced is becoming a father. When you have a child of your own, everything changes. Your priorities change. Your perspective changes. Everything you do is for them and their future.

“You can kill a revolutionary, but you cannot kill a revolution.”

She planted the seed in love. Tupac was the rose that grew from the concrete and Afeni continued to honor his legacy after his passing. The revolution will continue to live on through us all. Afeni Shakur is survived by her daughter (and Tupac’s younger half-sister) Sekyiwa Shakur.