The legendary rapper was born to twoactivist members of the Black Panthers Party, Afeni Shakur and Billy Garland.The Black Panther Party (BPP) was an African American organization that mergedduring the 1960s which became the first party to challenge and pose a threat tothe United States Government. The revolutionary Black Nationalist and socialorganization determination was to protect black neighborhoods from acts of police brutality that existed withcorrupt police officers. The civil right movement promoted the development of astronger black community by joining blacks together to fight for their rightsand improving their economic and social conditions.
Afeni joined the BPPin 1968 in Bronx (NYC). Like her son, she was a writer and wrote articles forthe BPP newsletter. In 1969, Afeni wascharged in over 150 counts of conspiracy against the United States Governmentin suspicion of planning to bomb subway andpolice stations, local department stores, railroads and the Botanical Garden inBronx. She later was releasedon a bail and shortly got pregnant with her son Tupac. Her bail was soonrevoked and she returned to jail to await her trial while pregnant. Tupac was gestated in prison and born intothe free air of East Harlem.
While facinga 300 years of prison time, Afeni chose to be her own attorney and successfullysecured her freedom. Her incredible gift of oration was soon inherited byher son Tupac. After getting released, Afeni changed her sons name from LesaneParish Crooks to Tupac Amaru after a Peruvian revolutionary.
Billy Garland, Tupacs biological father,was rarely in his life until he was 5 years old then vanished. It wasn’t untilTupac was shot in November 30, 1994 until he met his father in the hospital. Duringan interview with vibe magazine in1996, Tupac told the writer “I thought my father was dead all my life. After Igot shot, I looked up, there was this nigga that looked just like me. And hewas my father; that’s when I found out. We still didn’t take no blood test, butthe nigga looked just like me and the other nigga’s dead. So now I feel thatI’m past the father stage. Tupac took the surname of his stepfather,Mutulu Shakur, who was also a BPP member and the father of his sister SekyiwaShakur who was born two years after Tupac.
Mutulu and Afenis relationship endedin 1982 and like Billy Garland, he was not in Tupac life. He was sentenced to a60-year jail time in 1986 for being part of an armed robber in 1981 who lefttwo policemen and a security guard dead. While growing up, the only real fatherfigure Tupac had was his mother. He clearly had a difficult childhood spent inthe company of people who had been convicted of serious crimes and that hadbeen imprisoned Tupac made hisfirst stage appearance as an actor at the age of twelve in the play ‘A Raisinin the Sun’ at Apollo Theater in Harlem in 1983. He then spent the rest of his childhood movingaround the country with his mother and sister, living in poverty and at times inshelters.
Since Tupac had to switch schools constantly,it was hard for him to adjust and make friends. In 1984, they moved to Baltimore,Maryland where he attended Baltimore School of the Arts where he studied poetry, jazz, acting andballet. In one of his interviews,Tupac spoke about Baltimore saying “Then I auditioned for the Baltimore Schoolof Performing Arts. Then I started to have good-luck times.
I spent three yearsin Baltimore, high-school years. I made a lot offriends like, John Cole and Jada Pinkett Smith. I loved my classes. We wereexposed to everything.
You know, theater, ballet…listening to different typesof music.” At Baltimore, he finally felt like he fit in, made friends and wasable to express himself freely. He grew a desire to poetry and rapping and repeatedlywon rap battles during his attend, wrote poems and lyrics. After his four shapingyears, he was heartbroken when he had to move once again in 1988 to Marin City,California at the age of 17.