Remembering Afeni Shakur: Our Own Black Shining Princess (cont.)
Yes, Afeni was a very caring, sensitive, and generous person. Assemblyman Charles Barron noted: "Thank you, Afeni, for being a beautiful, caring Black Panther who fed hungry children breakfast and who gave out free shoes and clothing to needy Black families."
I know this for a fact. She was not only generous to my church and family. There were occasions when she asked me to take sizable grants for certain individuals and organizations. In addition to the money, she gave in various other ways. After Tupac's death and the word became known that Tupac had been a member of our church and that I was his pastor, and had spent the last months with him, I became in demand by youth groups. As I have stated, Tupac and I had never traveled together after his incarceration as I suggested we do. The money that Afeni gave us allowed me to travel and speak to groups gratis. I felt that Tupac was with me.
In addition, it was May 30, 2001. I will never forget the occasion. I made my bi-weekly stop at Afeni’s house in Atlanta, GA. She was in good spirits. She led me into the dining room. I wrote what happened next in my book, "Dear 2 Pac: Letters to a son":
"Your mother gave me a very pleasant surprise. She indicated that she was going to give my wife and I your dining room set. She said she thought long about it and came to the conclusion that it will be best situated in our home in Augusta, GA. (Your mother and Aunt Gloria had made several visits to our home in Augusta.) Your mom said when she had mentioned this to the family, everyone was ecstatic and thought it was the right place for it to be. She also said that it was the first major piece that you owned that she had been able to part with. Afeni had it professionally moved from Atlanta - all wrapped up, and neatly placed in our home in Augusta.
“It is interesting and amusing that when the moving people had placed the furniture, one of them said, 'I saw Tupac all over the house where we picked up the furniture - was that Tupac's house? My wife explained that it was Tupac's mother's house, and his mother was giving the furniture. My wife openly amused me by changing the color scheme of the dining room chairs. The movers said, 'No, leave it alone. It is what Tupac chose!'
"Pac, it looked beautiful. It seemed perfect for our house. Moreover, I know that this piece of furniture that you picked out, and to contemplate sitting at the table, eating, and writing, too, maybe more writing than eating, is strongly exhilarating ....”
(I take great pride in showing the dining room set to everyone who comes to our home. I use the occasion to talk about Tupac and Afeni, the Black Panthers, and the Liberation Movement. People are usually surprised to know that Tupac had purchased the dining room set. I would explain that he had a public persona that didn't always agree with his private life. The many marvelous things that he did were seldom if ever, mentioned in most of the portrayals of his life. Well, after 16 years, the furniture still sits where it was originally placed. It's a perpetual reminder of a beautiful, generous, deeply religious, and totally committed sister, and her talented son.)
In the same book, I wrote, "Then, one morning at 1:30 am, my wife called me into the dining room. There was excitement in her voice. She wanted to show me the china she had placed in the cabinet. She had been up all night, shining, polishing, and arranging the furniture. The china, all of it was gold-tinted, and it was absolutely gorgeous. When she looked at the bottom of each piece, what she saw blew her mind, and mine, too. Each piece appeared to have been custom-made, and the price tag was still attached. It was startling what each piece cost, and there was a complete set of eight. We stood around the table, marveling at each piece. Even more fascinating now that we knew the price."
When we totaled the price tags, the cost was astronomical. There was another consideration for me that was equally important. I'm not sure how much if at all, Tupac used these pieces, but the sizable investment suggested he had something in mind. A dining room set brings to mind family sitting together, eating, laughing, conversing, and having a good time - even if only during the holidays. I felt certain that Tupac must have had family in mind when he purchased the dining room set, especially knowing that he and his mother, sister, and entire family were very close.
Afeni gave me another priceless gift - an impressive collection of 14-CDs with a large record entitled, "From My Mind 2 the Depths of My Soul." They were placed inside a black-enameled frame with the words: "Presented to Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry to commemorate RIAA-certified combined sales of more than 35 million copies of the Amaru Entertainment Gold and Platinum albums, compact discs, and cassettes." The CD collection included:2Pacalypse Now, Strictly 4 My NIGGAZ, Me Against the World, All Eyez on Me, Thug Life, Wild Wild West: Gang-related, Gridlock'd, Makveli: The Don Illuminati, Above the Rim, R U Still Down (Remember Me)? Until the End of Time, The Rose that Grew from Concrete, Greatest Hits, and Still I Rise.
And, still, there was another gift. Afeni wrote the Introduction to my book, "Dear 2Pac: Letters to a son." In her own words, she expressed anguish at losing her son, gratitude for the support of family and friends, deep religious faith, and the mutual admiration that Tupac and I had for each other. The following is her introduction.
"In this life, no mother expects to outlive her children, yet fate sometimes deals us this painful blow. With each anniversary of my son's death, the void in my heart is intensified when I reflect upon the enormity of what Tupac accomplished in so few years and the contributions he would have made, had he lived.
"When the pain of loss overwhelms me, I look within and seek solace in prayer and comfort from the love of family and friends. During our sojourn on this planet, we meet people and develop relationships. Some acquaintances are fleeting, others for a time, some forever.
"More than thirty years ago accompanied by my sister, Gloria, with Tupac and Sekyiwa in tow, we joined The House of the Lord Church, pastored by the Rev. Dr. Herbert Daughtry. He entered my life and has become a 'rock in a weary land' for me and for my family. Pastor and I have a wonderful relationship, but the bond that developed between him and Tupac can only be called remarkable.
"Drawing upon a spiritual bond of mutual love and respect, Pastor Daughtry pays homage to Tupac in a candid dialogue remembering past conversations they had together. Each letter evolves into a broader picture of a kind, sensitive, and loving young man. That young man is the son I knew and would like to share with you."
But the greatest gifts Afeni gave to all of us were her love and her son - Tupac Amaru Shakur.
To be continued...