By Paul Russell
2/22/2003 7:22:18 PM
Tags and topics realted to this article include Afeni Shakur.
Afeni Shakur draws strength from her roots.
Each year she returns to Lumberton to regain a sense of balance. Shakur, an activist and the mother of slain rapper Tupac Shakur, only spent a few years of her childhood in Lumberton, but she calls it home.
Acting Robeson County Superintendent Alphonzo McRae, left, reads from a plaque to be given to Afeni Shakur, right, during a ceremony.
"This is where four or five generations of my family lived and were poor," she said. "I can't trace my roots to a place in Africa, but with clarity and assurance I know my people came from here. That is something important to me."
Shakur was in Lumberton on Friday to visit family and to be honored for her contributions to W.H. Knuckles Elementary School.
When she left Lumberton in the late 1950's, Shakur said, she had no plans to come back, and would not even have considered buying a 56-acre farm east of town. Shakur's life has come full circle since she left Robeson County for New York when she was 11.
"I have been trying in this portion of my life to listen to the quiet words of God," she said. "To not let it have to hit me on the head, which it did in my younger years. I didn't hear so well, and I suffered for it."
Shakur joined the Black Panther Party in 1968 and quickly moved up in the leadership ranks. In 1969, she and 20 Black Panther members were arrested and charged with conspiracy against the United States.
She spent 11 months in jail, before being released on a $100,000 bond. Her bail was later revoked, and she returned to jail. She was five months pregnant at the time.
Shakur represented herself at her trial and was found not guilty on more than 100 charges.
She gave birth to her son, Tupac, a month after her acquittal.
In 1978, she gave birth to a daughter, Sekyiwa.
Shakur and her two children moved to Baltimore in 1985. It was there she started using cocaine. She moved to California three years later, hoping to leave her addiction behind.
Destruction of drugs:
However it resurfaced and it destroyed her relationship with her children.
"What changed my life was recovery," she said. "Discovering the 12 steps was a blueprint for me to come back from disaster. What pushed me into recovery were my children. They didn't think it was cute that I used drugs. When I speak to children now, I always tell them the story about my son. I tell them about when he was beginning his career was about the time he discovered I was smoking crack. What he did was put a wall between he and I. He had no patience for what I was doing. I am thankful for that. I really am."
The hardest thing Shakur has had to rebound from was the death of her son. Tupac Shakur was shot several times while leaving a boxing match in September 1996 in Las Vegas.
Shakur recently produced a double album of her son's unreleased songs. A documentary about her son's life was featured at the Sundance Film Festival last month.
"I made a commitment to my son on Sept. 13, 1996, when he took hi
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