Born Alice Faye Williams; January 10, 1947 – May 2, 2016, she was an American activist and businesswoman. Shakur was the mother of American rapper, actor and legend, Tupac Shakur. We all know the famous songtitled ‘Dear Mama’, a song composed by the talented late American rapper, 2pac, about the struggle some women go through, especially single mothers, to raise a child and keep a family happy and sane. That song was dedicated to Afeni Shakur, the backbone behind 2Pac. Just like the legendary Fela Kuti, who had his mother by his side, supporting him, while he climbed up the ladder to stardom. Mothers are important in our lives.
In 1968 at the age of twenty-one, she changed her name to Afeni Shakur, Afeni meaning “lover of people” and Shakur being Arabic for “thankful t.o god”, respectively. She was then living in Harlem, New York, where she joined the far-left Black Panther Party. She became a section leader of the Harlem chapter and a mentor to new members, including Jamal Joseph, Cleo Silvers and Dhoruba Bin-Wahad. She also worked with Billy Garland (who is Tupac’s biological father) and Geronimo Pratt (who became Tupac’s godfather).
In April 1969, Ms Shakur was arrested on charges of conspiring with other Black Panther members to carry out bombings in New York. With bail set at $100,000 each for the 21 suspects, the Black Panthers decided to raise bail money first for Joseph and Shakur so that those two could work on raising bail for the others. Shakur had been effective in raising bail funds for jailed Panthers. After reading Fidel Castro’s History Will Absolve Me, Shakur chose to represent herself in court, telling other accused Panthers that if they were convicted, they would be the ones serving jail time, not the lawyers. Pregnant while on trial and facing a thirty-year prison sentence, Shakur interviewed witnesses and argued in court. She and the others in the “Panther 21” were acquitted in May 1971 after an eight-month trial (what a fighter and determined lot she is). Her son Lesane Parish Crooks was born on June 16, 1971 (he would be renamed Tupac Amaru Shakur the following year, in 1972).
Shakur was reportedly in federal court on July 20, 2007, to file an injunction to prevent Death Row Records from selling any unreleased material from Tupac after the company failed to prove that the unreleased songs were not part of its bankruptcy settlement.
Shakur travelled across the U.S., making guest appearances and delivering lectures. On February 6, 2007, she gave the keynote address for Vanderbilt University’s Commemoration for Black History Month.
On May 2, 2016, police and paramedics responded to Shakur’s home in Sausalito, California. She was transported to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead of a suspected heart attack. Her body was cremated.