…a “revolutionary.” She called herself “Afeni Shakur” and associated with members of the ill-fated Black Panther Party, a movement that wanted to feed school kids breakfast and earn civil rights for African Americans.
During her youth she dropped out of high school, partied with North Carolina gang members, then moved to Brooklyn: After an affair with one of Malcolm X’s bodyguards, she became political. When the mostly white United Federation of Teachers went on strike in 1968, she crossed the picket line and taught the children herself. After this she joined a New York chapter of the Black Panther Party and fell in with an organizer named Lumumba. She took to ranting about killing “the pigs” and overthrowing the government, which eventually led to her arrest and that of twenty comrades for conspiring to set off a race war. Pregnant, she made bail and told her husband, Lummuba, it wasn’t his child. Behind his back she had been carrying on with Legs (a small-time associate of Harlem drug baron Nicky Barnes) and Billy Garland (a member of the Party). Lumumba immediately divorced fer.
Things went downhill for Afeni: Bail revoked, she was imprisoned in the Women’s House of Detention in Greenwich Village. In her cell she patted her belly and said, “This is my prince. He is going to save the black nation.”
By the time Tupac was born on June 16, 1971, Afeni had already defended herself in court and been acquitted on 156 counts. Living in the Bronx, she found steady work as a paralegal and tried to raise her son to respect the value of an education.
From childhood, everyone called him the “Black Prince.” For misbehaving, he had to read an entire edition of The New York Times. But she had no answer when he asked about his daddy. “She just told me, ‘I don’t know who your daddy is.’ It wasn’t like she was a slut or nothin’. It was just some rough times.”When he was two,…