A Seed Planted in Stone
The Life and Times of Tupac Shakur
The Reverend Herbert Daughtry
Special thanks to
● To my wife, Dr. Karen Smith Daughtry, advisor;
● My children: Leah, and her firm, The Written Word, which served as editor and designer for this publication. Sharon for her support and advice. Dawnique for her typing and deciphering skills. Herb, Jr., my attorney, for his always sound legal advice;
● Sharman Blake, public relations consultant, Blake Enterprises;
● Sr. Minister Dorothy M. Isaac, Robin Renaud, Alicia Jerriho, and Laverne Walker, for their patient typing
Who Will Weep for Tupac Shakur?
A Sermon delivered at
The House of the Lord Church
Brooklyn, New York
Sunday, September 15, 1996
It is now 3:15 am. And I am driven to put to paper some thoughts about Tupac Shakur, gone from this life forever, at least in the flesh. What shall I say of this young man who lived such a flamboyant, violent, tumultuous life, and who died at 25 years old on September 13, 1996.
Let me speak first to his membership in church. Tupac's mother, Afeni, brought him and his sister to this holy place. The three of them stood right there at the altar and united with this congregation. He was a lad of about ten years. When I asked him what he wanted to be, he replied, "a revolutionary." Needless to say, I was surprised; I ought not to have been. There is a saying concerning "a chip off the old block" or "the twig doesn't fall too far from the tree." His mother, Afeni who was pregnant with him while incarcerated for allegedly plotting to bomb something, later found not guilty, was a revolutionary. She was a member of the Black Panther Party, a group of young black men and women who, some years ago, created enormous fear among some whites and a certain kind of black.
Afeni was committed to making things better for the masses. She was a revolutionary. If revolution means complete change, she wanted that. Afeni wanted a complete change for the better and she thought that could happen with the Black Panthers. Later she was to fall on hard times, but we are not here to tell her story. We're here to remember Tupac. Tupac the revolutionary. He said, "I want to be a revolutionary." Maybe that explains his life.
He wanted change. I know there are those who will say he went about it the wrong way. But that is not for me to judge. I will leave that to God and others. I confess I'm not good at that sort of thing. But let us remember, we shall be judged by the judgment we render, says the scripture and again, "you that are without sin, let him cast the first stone." Indeed, "the evil that men do live after the good is often interred with their bones" said Mark Anthony at the death of Caesar.
But to say that Tupac wanted to be a revolutionary - that he wanted to change things - but that he didn't know how is not harsh. We disagreed with how he went about it and I think that those of us who loved him, in spite of everything, told him so. And if we would be criticized for that, then criticize God too, for that is where we learned it. The Bible says, "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son..”
Those of us who loved him can accept the criticism of his method. We wanted better from his behavior and words and we told him that.
He had such prodigious talent. He was so likable when he wanted to be. Tupac had such fierce determination. He went from the gutter of extreme poverty and devastating rejection to reach the mountain top of success.
After he joined the church, he played as any normal child. He laughed. He cried. He played with other children. And then Afeni took him to Baltimore. They told me he did well in school. He was smart. In the Performing Arts School, Tupac was an exceptional student.
After moving out West they said he hit bottom. He was constantly looking for a place to stay and something to eat. It seemed nobody liked him in those days, except his mother, who,
as we all know, was struggling with her own problems.
Finally he made it. He became a star. He was a success.
I would see him from time to time when he would come back to New York. His mother would call me and ask me to talk to him, but those were fleeting, superficial visits. When he was shot back in 1994, he sent for me. I visited him in Bellevue Hospital. He had just been operated on. His head was bandaged and he
seemed to be semi-conscious. I said to him, "Son, I'm going to pray for you and you are going to be alright." I put my hand on him and prayed for him - a brief prayer - and I departed. When I returned to my church about a half hour later, I was told that Tupac had gotten up and was gone from the hospital. We were to have many belly laughs about that later.
During the time when he was incarcerated on the sexual assault charge, I visited with him often at Rikers Island, at least once, sometimes two or three times a week. I went to court with him on the day he was sentenced and would have spoken on his behalf if I were asked to do so. During those visits, while I was in the private, steeled enclosed room, we talked of many things and made many plans. At first he would complain that he was being mistreated. I carried his complaints to the higher authority. Things became better. We talked about religion. I would remind him of his membership and his revolutionary aspiration and would challenge him to live up to the ideals of those ideologies. I would speak to him of others who used the jail time to produce great goods.
There were times when he seemed depressed, angry with the system. He maintained his innocence, but accepted the fact that he was guilty of other things - so maybe he was paying for those things. Tupac said he would be and do better. He admitted that his head had not been clear for many years. He was thinking more clearly now, he said.
We talked of plans to help our people, especially our youth. I tried to get a commitment from him to help our prison program. He talked of his plans to have a retreat center in Atlanta where youth would be brought from inner cities and while there they would learn a trade, enhance their school work and would be exposed to celebrities who come and share their experiences with them..
We talked of his proposed marriage to Jada. He wanted me to do the ceremony. The wedding would be in Atlanta. He had it all planned. We talked about his plays, movies, songs he was writing. Tupac told me of one play in particular. A young man was running away from hit men and ran into this house, where he hid out, and on and on it went. When he was through, I said to him, "Why not have the young man go into a church, and have a minister to help him?" He paused, he thought - he looked at me and said, "that's a good idea, you see I have to write what I know about, what I have lived, I don't know anything about the church or religion.”
To return to religion for a moment, he was confused and troubled by religion. He told me the Muslims were trying to convert him, but he was not moved by their efforts. Tupac couldn't accept Christianity or the Bible, for that was too closely associated with the White man. I remember one visit in particular, he was extremely agitated. He had been humiliated by certain acts of the prison guards. As was my custom, whatever else we discussed, I would bring the conversation back to ideals and challenges of God, religion and the Bible.
On one occasion he said to me, "Reverend, I don't want to hurt your feelings and I don't mean any disrespect, but it's hard for me to believe in the same book as the white man. This system which beats you, me and my people, which does all kinds of evil things all over the world and claims the Bible as its book, how can I believe in the same book?" My response was, "Listen, I know how you feel. I went through the same thing. I have felt the same way. Maybe that’s why I stayed away from the church for many years. In fact, all of my youth, although I came from four generations of Black preachers. But when I found the Lord, or when God found me — after I hit the bottom, that’s when my life changed. I began to study the history of our people and the history of religion. I discovered that the Bible teaches that blackness is the origin of civilization — that the so-called major western religions including Judaism, Islam and Christianity have black roots and that Christianity was shaped and influenced by African people.”
To be continued..