Afeni Shakur’s legacy was larger than birthing one of the most prolific artists in hip-hop. Her efforts in the Black Panther Party with fellow activists like Jamal Joseph and ‘siblings’ Assata and Mutulu Shakur helped enlarge the party’s presence. Today (May 5) the party’s National Alumni Association released a deeply touching statement on the philanthropist and social justice leader.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our sister Afeni Shakur. Afeni was a sister, mentor, comrade and leader within the New York chapter of the Black Panther Party,” the lengthy statement reads. “As the section leader of the Harlem branch, Afeni was the one who personally welcomed many of us into the party. As the communications secretary, she was one of the highest ranking members on the East Coast and her leadership was the reason many young women joined. Afeni had a deep and profound love for the community and a passion for the people that made her a dynamic organizer and dedicated activist. She embodied the spirit of what it meant to be a Black Panther, waking up at 5AM to cook for the free breakfast program, coordinating the day to day office duties and personally being in the field. Afeni’s organizing laid the seeds for a legacy we still bear witness to today.”
Shakur died May 2 of cardiac arrest. She was 69 years old. Her journey with The Black Panther Party began in 1964, after meeting an affiliate of Malcolm X. She reportedly told biographer and actress Jasmine Guy the party helped her place her activism in an appropriate space. ” They took my rage and channeled it,” she said. “They educated my mind and gave me direction.” Born Alice Faye Williams, she officially changed her name to Afeni Shakur in 1968.
Shakur was a part of the widely publicized Panther 21 trial and was released from jail shortly before giving birth to her son, Tupac.
The party continued their tribute by praising the activist for community efforts.
“After the Black Panther Party, Afeni continued her work in the community as a paralegal helping save hundreds of families from eviction and criminal convictions,” they said. “We send our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to Sekyiwa, Jean and the entire Shakur family. We ask that young people everywhere continue Afeni’s legacy by lifting up her name and continuing to organize in their communities wherever they see injustice. We Love you dear sister Afeni. Long live your revolutionary spirit!”
Find out more about the legacy of the Black Panther Party here.