Afeni Shakur, one of the most visible figures in both the hip-hop and civil rights movements, reveals her moral and spiritual development in an innovative memoir spanning four decades.
Before becoming one of the most well-known members of the Black Power movement, Alice Faye Williams was not unlike any other poor, African American girl growing up in the impoverished South. But when her family moved to New York during the radical sixties, she became intoxicated by the promise of social change. By the time she turned twenty-one, Alice had a new name—Afeni Shakur, derived from the Yoruba term for "lover of people"—and a new vision for the future. The rest is history.
In 1969, Afeni was arrested along with other members of the Black Panther party on 189 felony charges that included 30 counts of conspiracy. Though she was eventually acquitted of the charges, Afeni spent eleven months in jail before being released. Once on bail, she became pregnant with a son: Tupac Amaru Shakur, a rap megastar until his tragic death in 1996.
In this searing work, renowned actress and Afeni's trusted friend Jasmine Guy reveals the evolution of a woman through a series of intimate conversations on themes such as love, death, race, drugs, politics, music, and, of course, her son. Filled with startling revelations and heartbreaking truths, Afeni's memoir is a powerful testament to the human spirit and the perseverance of the African American people.
Afeni Shakur (nee Alice Faye), the mother of deceased hip-hop star Tupac Shakur, emerges as a significant cultural emblem in her own right in this absorbing oral history. Daughter of a violent broken home, Shakur's rage at her inner demons and at white racism impelled her into a leadership position with the Black Panthers, where she navigated the treacherous currents of revolutionary and sexual politics in the Black Power movement. After government and internal dissension brought down the Panthers ("the party was ripping itself apart," she says), she followed a downward spiral of bad relationships, crack addiction and familial breakup, ending with 12-step redemption and a final come-back at the helm of Tupac's posthumous entertainment empire. The book is somewhat marred by the obtrusive presence of interlocutor and amanuensis Guy, an actress and friend-of-Tupac who optioned the rights to Afreni's story and too often mentions its possibilities as an uplifting biopic. At times, she is clumsy about eliciting a coherent narrative from Shakur, dilutes Shakur's often lacerating self-reproaches with Oprah-esque talk of self-esteem issues, and clutters the story with too much banter and bonding between her and her subject. Still, Shakur's distinctive voice comes through loud and clear, by turns truculent, ruminative and elegiac, and painfully aware of her many failures to live up to her own flinty moralism. The result is a complex portrait of a woman in whom the political and the personal collided with unusual force.
I needed this !
Great read & it brought me to a place of healing I didn’t know I needed. Truly thankful!
Thank you for articulating this piece of work in a such a deep and compassionate way, this book moved my spirit,, you are appreciated ❤️
Gives great insight into Afeni's life from childhood to panther party to motherhood/marriages to addiction to recovery to post recovery. Focused on the complex character of Afeni, daughter, student, wife, activist, mother, and mentor. Jasmine Guy does a great job of diving into the deep web of who Afeni was, allowing us (women) to connect with her as all women can relate to each other's struggles. Great read for a first account of Afeni!