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More than ‘Mama’: Seven Inspiring Moments From Afeni Shakur

Revolt Staff

 // May 4, 2016

Afeni Shakur, mother of music legend Tupac Shakur, died on Monday (May 2) at the age of 69, according to authorities.

In her life, Afeni was a mother, a revolutionary, an entrepreneur, a human rights activist, and a philanthropist. Beyond the noble titles, and the fact she gave birth to a leader of generations in Tupac Shakur, Afeni is a survivor and hero — a hero who has long symbolized resistance. Having overcome hardships, both personally and socially, she evolved, modified, and flourished over the past seven decades; thus making her story a conduit of hope.

In an attempt to shed light on her divine inspiration, REVOLT looks back at some of the many impactful moments Afeni Shakur gave the world.

Panther Power

On April 2, 1969, Shakur was one of 21 members of the Black Panther party arrested and charged with several counts of conspiracy after being accused of plotting bombings in New York City. It was alleged that the group planned to bomb and long-range shoot two police stations and a Board of Education office. Despite being the first member released on bail in the Fall of 1970, it was revoked and Shakur returned to prison, now pregnant with her son Tupac. The group faced what would, after eight months, reportedly become the state’s longest and most expensive trial, but Shakur defended herself (despite objections from her co-defendants) and, in her cross-examination of undercover detective Ralph White, performed like a seasoned attorney to win her freedom. In May 1961, all defendants were acquitted of the 156 charges filed against them and Shakur gave birth to Tupac just one month later.

Launches Amaru Entertainment and Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation

In 1997, a year after the untimely death of her son, Afeni Shakur launched the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation and the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts to preserve his dream. The next year, she founded Amaru Entertainment, which launched a slew of her son’s collection including R U Still Down? (Remember Me), Until the End of Time, and 2003’s Tupac: Resurrection. "It has helped me a lot in these 10 years to stay focused and trying to grasp for a higher ground because of the love that people have shown to him and me," she would later state in an interview with National Public Radio. "It gives me a sense of responsibility to those people."

Stands Alongside Violetta Wallace, Biggie's Mother, At 1999's MTV Video Music Awards

Afeni Shakur & Voletta Wallace at MTV Awards 1999 (Complete)
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Nearly three years after her own son’s death, Shakur presented at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards alongside Voletta Wallace, mother of fellow slain rapper the Notorious B.I.G. Their joint appearance gave nod to the alleged East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry that left both of their sons dead and aimed to express and encourage an end to violence. Before announcing Jay-Z’s win for “Best Rap Video,” Shakur said, “In keeping with both of our sons’ memories and contributions to the arts, we stand united as mothers preserving their legacies.”

Starts Makaveli Clothing Line

Seven years after the passing of her son Tupac Shakur, Makaveli Branded Clothing was created by Paul Meltzer, who licensed rights from Afeni Shakur. The original concept was shaped with designer Willie Montanez from an idea conceived by Rips Meltzer. The brand’s purpose and mission was to keep the legacy of Tupac alive through fashion. It was the first label to use personal images as part of an integrated fashion line, rather than promotional apparel. Proceeds and sales portions were donated to the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation and Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Atlanta Georgia.

Executive Produces Oscar-Nominated "Tupac: Resurrection"

In 2003, she executive produced the Oscar-nominated documentary, “Tupac: Resurrection.” The film remains the first and only officially sanctioned film release from the late rapper’s estate. “And with this movie we felt all the time doing it, that it had to be in Tupac’s words. What’s surprising for us is how powerful his words are in America,” she said about the film to XXL in a 2003 cover story. We are really happy that Tupac has an opportunity to explain himself, and then we don’t have to do this anymore. We don’t have to say, “This is what Tupac thought or what he said in his life time.” The only answers are right there, and if there are more, we don’t have them.”

2Pac's "Dear Mama," Dedicated To Afeni, Is Inducted Into Library Of Congress

In 2010, 2Pac’s “Dear Mama,” a song dedicated to Afeni on 1995’s Me Against the World, was inducted into the Library of Congress Registry. The song was written shortly before Pac served a prison term. “I’m incredibly touched,” said Afeni in a statement after the song made it into the National Recording Registry. “It could have been any song, but I’m honored they chose ‘Dear Mama’ in particular. It is a song that spoke not just to me, but every mother that has been in that situation, and there have been millions of us.”

Consoles Mothers At Travyon Martin Foundation Retreat

Afeni Shakur delivered the good word to Sybrina Fulton, mother of slain teen Travyon Martin, and other mothers who’ve lost children to violence at the Travyon Martin Foundation’s Circle of Mothers retreat in Miami. In her emotional keynote address, Shakur pleaded with the audience to release anger and instead honor the deceased with acts of positivity and community uplifting.

“I believe that from the time my son left, that angels came and took his soul, his spirit and flew him happily where God sits in court,” she said in her address. Afeni went on to say that she believes Tupac and Travyon are together in heaven, adding, “My heart goes out to the mother and family of Trayvon Martin. I too am a mother who lost a child to gun violence. All violence is unacceptable. They should be allowed to grow up and allowed to make mistakes. There is no distinction in murder and violence, I can’t tell the difference between police killings, neighborhood watch killings and the killing of ourselves, and I just don’t know the difference.”

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