An Interview With Tupacs Mother Afeni ...     

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11/23/2003 9:32:35 AM
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An Interview With Tupacs Mother Afeni Shakur
“I thank you for that question, because I rarely have an opportunity to speak about what we are responsible for. These young people are called so many names and vilified, as my son was. To me, every generation is responsible for the next."
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Long before Tupac Shakur was even conceived, his mom, Alice Faye Williams, dropped out of high school and moved from North Carolina to New York City where she soon joined the Black Panther Party. As a member of that self-styled revolutionary group, she changed her name to Afeni Shakur and became famous as one of the New York 21, a cadre of Panther leaders jailed by J. Edgar Hoover on fabricated charges of fomenting race war.

Defending herself, Afeni, like the rest of her co-defendants, was ultimately acquitted of all 156 of the trump-up counts against her. And her son, Tupac, was born on June 16, 1971, just a month after she was released from the Women's House of Detention. She raised her son as a single mom, often penniless, homeless and addicted to crack. Today, she's clean, eats organically, and serves as CEO of Amaru Records and as founder of the Tupac Shakur Foundation, an arts and cultural organization which offers disadvantaged kids an opportunity to pursue their creative dreams.

Here she speaks about her latest venture, as executive producer of “Tupac: Resurrection,” a documentary about the rise and fall of her late son.

Kam: Why did you decide to make this movie?

Afeni: "For us, it was like, Tupac would've wanted this, so we gotta do it."

Kam: How much did your radical politics shape your son?

Afeni: "Well, I'll tell you the truth: I don't like to say what influenced my son, which is another reason why we did this movie. No one speaks for Tupac better than Tupac. The movie is an effort to show, in a context, what effect the Black Panther Party his mom's life had on him. We really need to remember that it was his mom who was a Black Panther. Tupac was born one month and three days after I was acquitted. He was born with my baggage. What he did as a human being was to try to make the best out of what he came here with."

Kam: How did you raise him?

Afeni: "I tried to impart to him a sense of integrity and of accepting responsibility for whatever we do. And I imparted to him a thirst for knowledge."

Kam: How did you decide which family photos to include in the documentary?

Afeni: "It's been seven years, and I am yet unable to go through my son's things. Other members of my family and the MTV production team did a magnificent job. But I am not able to do anything like that."

Kam: How do you like the songs on the soundtrack?

Afeni: "I love it. I especially like the one with 50 Cent where he says, 'Until Machiavelli returns, all eyes on me!'"

Kam: Tupac's East Coast arch-rival, Biggie Smalls, who was implicated in his murder, is on the soundtrack, too. What's up with that?

Afeni: "I like that we were able to honor Miss Wallace (Biggie's mom) with that song. She always says nice very things about me, so I wanted to thank her like that. I'm very proud of that song."

Kam: Do you enjoy seeing Tupac as a cultural icon up on the big screen?

Afeni: “I am never able to watch him as anything except my son. I am amazed, however, to observe how brilliant he was, because I know he came from me. And I’m like, ’Where’d that come from?’”

Kam: Is it hard for you to do interviews like this?

Afeni: "The reason it's not hard is because I don't do them every day. You must remember, I'm not an entertainer. I'm the mother of the murdered person who is the subject of this movie. I remain Tupac's mom every day. And as his mother, today, this is my responsibility. And that's the way I am able to do it. So this is okay."

Kam: How would you like Tupac to be remembered?

Afeni: "I'd like people to remember him as a complete artist. I would like for them to be touched and moved by his music and by his art. To judge him by the totality of his work. If they do that, it would be sufficient for me."<

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