Attica Rebellion (09.09-13.1971); Tupac Shakur (09.06.1996);
World Trade Centers (09.11.2001)
September is a month with painful memorable events.
I felt particularly elated on one visit when a decision had to be made on which one of his records should be released. He asked me my opinion. He described what the records were about. I then gave him my opinion. That is the decision he made.
It was not all serious. It was not all complaints and soberness. We had some light moments. Of course, you couldn’t be around Tupac too long without laughter and fun times. His departure from the hospital after I prayed for him, we really got a big laugh out of that. I would say, “Do you realize that 30 minutes after I prayed for you, you came back from the jaws of death. You are special. God has a special work for you to do. When you are out, you better do the right thing.” He would laugh and say, “Yeah, I know, I know.” When I would say, “You’re special. Do you hear me? God has given you special talents, watched over you, raised you up, you better do the right thing!”
He mentioned this cousin who was a preacher who always told him the same thing. Maybe, if there is any criticism - maybe, maybe, what appears to some of us to be this confused, complex behavior, maybe, maybe it all stemmed from his fleeing from God. His fighting, his struggling was hit bottom, not against society, surely, that too. But at the bottom, he was running away from God. Like Jonah of the Bible, he ran away from God. He created trouble and problems on the ship from which he tried to escape. The people on the ship decided to throw him into the sea where a big fish was there to swallow him up and once he confessed, and agreed to do God’s will, the fish spit him up on shore. And Jonah did what God wanted him to do.
Tupac ran away. He was thrown overboard but there was no big fish to swallow him up and spit him onshore. Or maybe another way of saying, it is when he was swallowed up by the jail system and spit back out on the streets, unlike Jonah, he… well.
So, to return to the prayer. I would say to him, “There are three special prayers the Lord answered when I prayed. One was you; praying you off the deathbed so that in thirty minutes you could get up and leave.” And there was another prayer that had to do with the Gulf War. I told him how I was invited to Washington to pray in the US House of Representatives. Of course, I prayed that God would end the war in the Gulf. On my way back home that evening while riding in the car, I heard that President Bush had stopped the war. When I arrived home, I called back to Washington and told the people there, “Next time you have a war, or some big problem, don’t take so long to call me!” And then I would tell him how I prayed at the Democratic National Committee meeting after the 1992 Democratic Convention, and Clinton and Gore were elected. We would have a big laugh. Then I would say, “If you ever have a big problem - don’t bother me with little stuff - but if you ever have a big problem, let me know. Send for me.” Alas, he had a big problem but he didn’t send to me. I regret I was not there. Maybe it would have been useless - maybe he knew it.
I continued to visit him even upstate at Clinton Correctional Facility. He was married there. We continued to make plans about doing good things. He had refined his Atlanta plans somewhat. It was the last time I saw him.
Now he is gone - gone forever - at least in the flesh. But in some ways, he will never be finally gone. His music will always be with us and the factors and forces which shaped him and drove him will be around for a long time.
Yes, he’s gone - and some will say, “Good riddance.” Some will laugh and some will cry. Some will ask, “Who will weep for Tupac Shakur?” and to that crowd and to the world I will say “I will weep for Tupac Shakur.”
I will weep for the young man I knew. I will weep for Tupac and for all of the rap artists, for the good and the bad; for all of them and for us who are being persuaded and programmed by forces which some of us only dimly understand, and some of us understand not at all.
I will weep for Tupac for he is but the reflection of the larger society. On the one side, he is the victim of racist forces which wreaked havoc upon his ancestors and still continue to wreak havoc upon people of African ancestry, and on the other side glorifies the sex and violence for which it condemns him. Tupac understood this and he fought and organized, twisted and squirmed, tossed and turned as he realized that he reflected the very society that he hated.
I will weep for Tupac. Yes, and I will weep for all young black males especially those who are both the victims and the victimizers of this violent and hypocritical, materialistic, racist society.
And I will weep for the parents, especially the mother. For always there are the mothers which in itself is instructive. I will weep for the mothers of these slain youths and the mothers of the youth that did the slaying.
Yes, I will weep for Afeni who has known bitter disappointment and now another dream, her son. Her only son is dashed upon the rocks.
I will weep for Tupac Shakur. For all that he was and for all that he could have been. I will weep for all black youth whose very survival is at stake - all that diseases don’t get, the drugs get. All that the drugs don’t get, violence gets - violence at their own hands and violence by the society, especially the police and racist murderers. And all that the violence doesn’t get, penitentiaries don’t get, the quite silent slow killers get; the miseducation, the joblessness, the denial of goods and services, the dilapidated houses and filthy streets.
I will weep for them all.
I will weep for Yusuf Hawkins.
I will weep for Randy Evans.
I will weep for Jay Parker.
I will weep for Arthur Miller;
I will weep for Tupac. He is our son. He is our child and his rebellion was just as real and against the same forces that caused the rebellion although of a different kind, of Malcolm and Martin.
To be continued…