Remembering Afeni Shakur: Our Own Black Shining Princess
Having completed the Earl Caldwell article on the founding of NBUF, now I want to resume the memorial of Afeni Shakur. We originally started with Charles Barron's article in his book Charles Barron: Speaking Truth to Power Articles and Essays on Revolution, Black Radical Politics and Leadership. Afeni was a member of my church. She brought along her son, Tupac, her daughter, Sekiywa, and her sister, Gloria. Following is the foreword and introduction that I had thought were important to include in the article.
It has become my practice to write personal reflections on the transitions of family and friends, not the usual biographies or obituaries, but more importantly, personal, intimate interactions with animals instances were an ounce of the larger public. These reflections were published in the New York Daily Challenge. I’ll write two articles weekly – sometimes more when special events or issues occur.
I confess I am amazed by the wide range of personalities that I have had some kind of interactions with, and sometimes, long and deep relations with. My interactions included President Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, Ms. Mae Mallory, Mr. Kwame Ture, Mr. Amiri Baraka, Mr. Percy Sutton, Mr. Basil Paterson, Governor Mario Cuomo, Ms. Rosa Parks, Mr. Max Roach, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, Tupac Shakur, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mrs. Coretta Scott King, Mr. Jitu Weusi, Ms. Ella Baker, Mr. OmarI Obadele, and, now, Ms. Afeni Shakur.
As I was preparing the articles about Afeni, I could not hold my pen still. The articles kept getting longer. Much administration said, “you or to turn the articles into a book, and have it ready for a Feeney‘s memorial on June 18, 2016.“
“It will be a towering challenge,” I thought. “There was less than a month to get it done, but let’s do it.”
First, we have this volume, remembering Afeni – our own Black shining princess. Most of us will recognize the words from Ossie Davis’s eulogy for Malcolm X. He was “our own Black shining prince.”
Because of the haze with which the book was done, there might be a few errors or mistakes, but the substance and meaning are clear. Thus, the reasons why there are no acknowledgments, table of contents, bibliography, and index. Additionally, the reader might find a few repetitions. Remember, the chapters were prepared for newspaper paper articles. In any case, repetition is good. It has been said, “something has to be mentioned at least three times before it is comprehended.“
I quoted extensively from my work, “Dear 2Pac: Letters to a Son,” and the booklet, “A Seed Planted in Stone,” primarily because it was hard for me to remember Afeni without Tupac. My mind and spirit, are inextricably linked.
I hope and pray that the family and friends of Afeni will appreciate his labor of love. I wanted to express my love, appreciation, and gratitude for a sister, a church member, and a fellow freedom fighter.
Finally, Afeni’s transition came when there were other transitions of persons I had known - all were crammed into about three weeks. The sad news came almost daily. I made reference to them in the Introduction. Hopefully, in some strange way, as the lives of their loved ones are mentioned, they will be comforted, at least a tiny bit. Knowing that others are bearing the same unspeakable grief, too; that, in fact, we, the human family, are grieving everywhere and cherish each other’s pain. Somehow, we carry on.
In the documentary, depicting the Temptations, the extraordinary group, one of the singers, Melvin Williams, met another member of the group, Eddie Kendricks, at the gravesite of another member, Paul Williams, who had committed suicide. Eddie and Paul were great friends. “I never would have left Alabama if it wasn’t for Paul,” said Eddie. Then, he turned to Melvin, and said, “ what do I do now, Melvin?“
Melvin replied, “You live. And, that’s hard! But we move on.“
Yes, we move on in spite of our pain. Moreover, I hope there is some solace to grieving loved ones in knowing that their loved ones are and shall be remembered by countless unknown persons. Those who grieve must remember that you do not grieve alone.
Often, we are asked, “Where were you when someone when some momentous event occurred?“ For example, “Where were you when Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, or President John F Kennedy was assassinated?”; or, “Where were you when someone special in your life was killed or died?”
I have been in the ministry for over 60 years, and I have never experienced the transition of loved ones in such a short period of time: Saturday, April 23, 2016, through Tuesday, May 12, 2016. It seemed that news reached me every day of the transition of a person who was in some way close to me.
It started with a telephone call on Saturday, April 23, 2016, at 9:44 p.m. - it always seems to start with a telephone call. It was Tylibah Washington, a third-generation member of our church, The House of the Lord Church. She had bad news. Her aunt, Truly Washington, the sister of Yusef and Weusi, had been killed in a vehicle accident. Her body was mangled. She was in a coma and not expected to live. “Would you pray for her and the family?“ she asked, “Would you also call my father, who is at her bedside in the hospital?” I called and spoke to Weusi, offering words of comfort, and prayed with him.
On Wednesday, April 27, 2016, at 9:05 AM, when I was sitting in my office at the church, preparing the finishing touches for my weekly articles, my wife, Dr. Karen S Daughtry called. Among other conversational matters, she said, nonchalantly, as if she was telling me something that I already knew, “Have you heard about Winston Hill?“No,“ I replied, bracing myself for the worst. She said, “Winston Hill is dead.“ “When?“ “Tuesday night.“
To be continued…