Afeni Shakur Davis was an American political activist and member of the Black Panther Party.
She is best know as slain American rapper Tupac Shakur’s mother and the executor of his estate.
Afeni was a revolutionary thinker and activist who shaped the political discourse of Black Liberation movements in the 70s.
She joined the Black Panther Party in 1968 and was a crucial member in the NYC chapter.
Afeni defended herself in the so-called Panther 21 trail, earning an acquittal on all charges after serving a total of 11 months in jail.
Afeni Shakur early life
Afeni was born on January 10, 1947, in Lumberton, North Carolina.
At the age of eleven in 1958, Afeni and her sister moved to the South Bronx with their mother, a factory worker.
Her childhood was troubled, and she grew up watching her father beat her mother until her mother moved Alice and her older sister, Gloria ‘Glo’ Jean, from Norfolk, Virginia, back to Lumberton before ultimately ending up in New York.
In New York, Afeni joined a Bronx women’s gang for protection, and attended Bronx High School of Science and became interested in street life.
In 1968, at the age of 21, she changed her name to Afeni Shakur, Afeni meaning ‘lover of people’ and Shakur being Arabic for ‘thankful to God’, respectively.
Afeni later joined the Black Panther Party and became a leader of the Harlem and Bronx chapters.
She participated in volunteer work and wrote articles for the party newsletter.
In 1971, she was arrested and charged with conspiracy to bomb police stations and department stores in New York City.
While in jail, Afeni became pregnant with Tupac Shakur.
She defended herself in court against a stack of hefty charges and seemingly insurmountable odds.
The jury ultimately returned a not guilty verdict on all 156 charges.
In 1975, Afeni married Mutulu Shakur, the adopted brother of her first husband, Lumumba.
Then, on October 3 of the same year, Shakur gave birth to her second child, Sekyiwa Shakur.
In 1985, as a single mother, Afeni fell on tough times while trying to provide for her young children, so she relocated her family to Baltimore.
It was in Baltimore where Afeni started using cocaine and soon her family foundation began to crumble.
In 2004, Afeni released her biography, Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary, which was written by Jasmine Guy.
In her biography, she reflected on her childhood experiences and her upbringing as well as her involvement in the Black Panther Party.
She described her experiences in jail and how together with other inmates, they organized a bail fund to get some of the women out of jail.
Afeni Shakur cause of death
Afeni died on May 2, 2016, at the age of 69.
The Marin County Sheriff’s Department confirmed her death on Twitter and reported that deputies responded to a report of a possible cardiac arrest at Shakur’s home at 9:34 PM Monday; less than an hour later, Afeni died at the hospital.
The exact cause of her death was not immediately known, but it was suspected to be cardiac arrest.
Afeni Shakur career
Afeni became involved in political activism in the late 1960s and joined the Black Panther Party.
She participated in volunteer work, became a leader of the Black Panther Harlem and Bronx chapters, and wrote articles for the party newsletter
In 1969, Afeni was arrested and charged with conspiracy to bomb multiple New York City landmarks.
She was imprisoned for over a year before being acquitted of all charges in 1971.
After Tupac’s death, Afeni started and ran the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which aimed to provide opportunities for young people to develop their creative talents.
She also released her biography, Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary, in 2004, which documented her early life, involvement with the Black Panthers, and later life dealing with the death and estate of her son.
Afeni used the proceeds from the sale of Tupac’s catalog of unreleased material to establish a charitable foundation that promotes arts education.
She established the Tupac Amaru Foundation of the Arts and the Tupac Shakur Center for the Arts, which provides programs and resources for young people interested in the arts.
Afeni’s career was marked by her activism, legal troubles and philanthropy.
She was a strong and determined woman who used her experiences to help others and promote positive change.