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Afeni Shakur, fighter for Black liberation passes away

By Michael Sampson

Baltimore, MD – “Afeni Shakur Davis,” otherwise known as Afeni Shakur, passed away late Monday night, May 2, at the age of 69. The mother of the late great artist Tupac Shakur, she was a revolutionary leader in her own right, serving as the Harlem Section Leader of the Black Panther Party during the 1960s and 70s. She joined the party as a teen in 1968.

Shakur helped run the free breakfast program for Black youth on top of her day to day community organizing duties with the party.

According a statement released by the National Alumni Association of the Black Panther Party, “Afeni had a deep and profound love for the community and a passion for the people that made her a dynamic organizer and dedicated activist. She embodied the spirit of what it meant to be a Black Panther, waking up at 5:00 a.m. to cook for the free breakfast program, coordinating the day to day office duties and personally being in the field.

“Afeni's organizing laid the seeds for a legacy we still bear witness to today. While working with tenant organizations, Afeni led numerous rent strikes, resulting in several tenant owned buildings, some of which still exist today. She was instrumental in organizing health care professionals and patients at Lincoln Hospital and Harlem Hospital to develop the first patient bill of rights, a forerunner of the patient bill of rights now posted in every hospital.”

Shakur, along with 20 others known as the Panther 21, were victims of racist political repression, part of the U.S. government’s ‘War on the Panthers.’ They were accused and faced trumped-up charges of conspiracy to bomb police stations. Shakur decided to represent herself in the case after reading, History Will Absolve Me, a speech by Cuban Revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. The Panther 21 were acquitted of all charges.

Shakur will be remembered as a true fighter in the Black liberation movement. More than being the mother of Tupac Shakur, she showed the revolutionary leadership of Black women in the Black Panther Party as well as the importance of organizing to win the peoples struggles.

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