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Afeni Shakur : Evolution of a Revolutionary

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Before becoming one of the most well-known members of the Black Power movement, Alice Faye Williams was not unlike any other poor, African American girl growing up in the impoverished South. But when her family moved to New York during the radical sixties, she became intoxicated by the promise of social change. By the time she turned twenty-one, Alice had a new name -- Afeni Shakur, derived from the Yoruba term for "lover of people" -- and a new vision for the future. The rest is history.

In 1969, Afeni was arrested along with other members of the Black Panther party on 189 felony charges that included 30 counts of conspiracy. Though she was eventually acquitted of the charges, Afeni spent eleven months in jail before being released. Once on bail, she became pregnant with a son: Tupac Amaru Shakur, a rap megastar until his tragic death in 1996.
In this searing work, renowned actress and Afeni's trusted friend Jasmine Guy reveals the evolution of a woman through a series of intimate conversations on themes such as love, death, race, drugs, politics, music, and of course her son. Filled with startling revelations and heartbreaking truths, Afeni's memoir is a powerful testament to the human spirit and the perseverance of the African American people.

240 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2004

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About the author

Jasmine Guy

10 books27 followers
Jasmine Guy is an American actress, director, singer and dancer. She is best known for her starring role as Whitley Gilbert in the television sitcom 'A Different World,' and as part of the ensemble cast of 'Dead Like Me.'

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5 stars
321 (53%)
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184 (30%)
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72 (12%)
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15 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews
Profile Image for Ebony.
3 reviews
March 8, 2014

Immediately, I thought Afeni and Jasmine were an unlikely collaboration and I was curious to know about their relationship. I have always been a fan of both women. I loved Jasmine every since she was Whitley on A Different World and I have always wanted to learn more about Afeni. I knew she was the mother of legendary rapper Tupac and that she was a prominent figure in the Black Panther movement, but nothing other than that.

After sitting on my bookshelf for some months, I finally sat down to read it. The book is powerful and well put. Jasmine’s writing style is witty, graceful and eloquent just like her personality.

This book is full of knowledge. I had to stop to make notes in my journal as if I was in class. There were several lessons and quotes that I never want to forget.

Afeni is an incredible woman with a story to be told. Although we are products of two totally different generations, I feel like I understand her. I can definitely appreciate her strength. I feel like a grew up a little bit more just from hearing her story.
Profile Image for Niv.
55 reviews
April 14, 2021
Agency is such a powerful thing. Anyone familiar with Tupac's "Dear Mama" knows the story of Afeni Shakur - or so it may seem. I can attest that it doesn't even come close to illuminating the complexities of the life of Afeni Shakur. Speaking with such profound clarity, Afeni holds no illusions about her mistakes and her imperfections. But she is so much more than her missteps, and Jasmine Guy craftily ensures that we see Afeni as a whole woman.

Afeni's story is the story of Black women in America. Her story, and that of her son and daughter shed light on the way pain is passed between generations. Indeed, it is a story of struggle, but also one of reconciliation, rebirth, and the wisdom that only comes from living through the deepest depths of despair. It is a story about womanhood, about Blackness, about injustice, about honesty, personal responsibility, and truth. There is so much to be learned from Afeni's story, way beyond being mother to one of hip-hop's most legendary names. This is a story that needed to be told and that absolutely should be read.
Profile Image for Amber.
169 reviews42 followers
July 3, 2020
What a POWERFUL read! I read this book in less than 24 hours and I absolutely could not put it down. I have been a Tupac super fan for all of my life. Through the teachings of my grandmother and other positive figures in my life I already knew quite a bit about The BPP and Afeni’s role in the NY21 acquittal. But this raw and real book (which ultimately reads as a conversation between two friends, Jasmine Guy and Afeni) really cut me open.

Afeni tells HER story. Not as the “mother of Tupac Shakur” (because she was soooo much more than that) but as the little poor black girl who was filled with rage and insecurity. Who wanted to be protected. Who fell into addiction and a life of SO MUCH LOSS ... and how she came out on the other side.

Highly recommend. FULL 5 STARS.
Profile Image for Tonya.
Author 7 books39 followers
January 14, 2016
This was a brutally honest memoir of Afeni Shakur, co-written with Jasmine Guy. Of her trials in life, Afeni learned from it. Jasmine seems to have wanted us in the room with them as they spoke and I loved that. I felt close to both of them. It took her some time for Afeni to even out her course. However, with this book, she gave it back to Jasmine (as she later notes), to me, to all of us, who read about it, as a testimonial of gratitude and extra chances.
478 reviews7 followers
May 19, 2009
I've been reading a lot about activists and leftists in the '60s and was mostly hoping for that, but Shakur's life story beyond that was interesting too. I still need better books on women in the Black Panthers.
Profile Image for JRT.
173 reviews55 followers
December 13, 2022
This is a short but beautiful account of Afeni Shakur’s life, captured and written by actress Jasmine Guy from first-hand conversations with Afeni. There is no romanticization or glorification of Afeni’s past, only humanization and lessons in struggle. Guy did a tremendous job displaying Afeni’s brutally honest self-reflectiveness. Afeni never hid her demons, and understanding those demons allows for greater insights into her time as a member of the Black Panther Party, as well as the tumultuous and tragically short life of her son, Tupac. While I wish there was more detail on her day-to-day life as a Panther and the circumstances that led up to the Panther 21 case, that info can be found in other books. This book is essentially a written, first-hand record of Afeni’s road to healing and peace. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Clifford  Onehundredd .
114 reviews18 followers
March 3, 2018
Afeni was beloved mother and Panther to the man I've idolized all my life...she forever will have my respect. Jasmine Guy did a beautiful and brave thing sitting down with Afeni to hear her story. I believe Afeni can teach all other black women what resilience and courage really is. Although I have a different account of what happen to my Teacher Pac I'm understand that his absence left a void in the family and his friends. I sometimes wonder what type of world we live in when all the pressure is on the underdogs. A few People who knew Afeni knew me, it's safe to say she knew of me as a fan of Tupac...Kristen Parcus was lucky to spend time with her...Afeni is eternally in our hearts...this book was beautiful I'm glad I finally read it.
Profile Image for Hope.
10 reviews1 follower
January 13, 2021
I loved learning more about Afeni’s life & her involvement with the Black Panther Party/NY 21 trial. Her story is full of heartbreak & faith & recovery. At times I felt like Guy’s narration was unnecessary & pulled me away from Afeni’s words.
Profile Image for martha fountain.
750 reviews14 followers
March 10, 2021
Not what I expected

There were so many layers to Afeni Shakur and to unpack it where it is revealed authentically takes skills. Jasmine Guy personal relationship with Afeni provided her access but in some cases the story fell flat as the author inserted herself in different parts of the story. I wanted to learn more about Afeni and the fact it was portrayed as a dialogue made the story lose some of the strong elements of storytelling. I definitely wanted more.
Profile Image for Eric Piotrowski.
Author 9 books18 followers
December 16, 2010
I was surprised to find a biography of Tupac's mother written by Jasmine Guy. I'd only known her from A Different World, but she was a good friend of Pac's, and became close to his mother (and the rest of his family) after he died. This is a very interesting, powerful, and well-written look at her life and the stories behind "Dear Mama". A must-read for anyone interested in hip-hop, the Black Panthers, or what happens when a movement skids out of control. (Shakur says "We dropped the ball.")

My heart smiled to find so much emphasis on education, poetry, and people taking care of people. As with Michael Eric Dyson's Holler if You Hear Me, it makes me wonder what Tupac would be like today.
Profile Image for Victoria Law.
Author 9 books266 followers
October 20, 2017
If, like me, you didn't know much about Afeni and/or Tupac Shakur before picking up this book, you may still be left with questions and holes in your understanding about them and their lives. I understand that Guy intended for this to be a reflection of their conversations, but I think the book would have benefited from her filling in the gaps.

The book doesn't go deep into the Panther 21 case (in which everyone, including was acquitted), which is a shame considering the current politically-motivated arrests and prosecutions with threats of up to 70 years in prison if convicted:
January 23, 2011
Afeni Shakur: The Evolution of a Revolutionary is my favorite book. This book is beyond powerful! It entails a great deal of African American history- the affects of slavery, the Black Panther movement, and Hip Hop in the eyes of the late Tupac Shakur embodied in one single, yet strong African American woman. This book reads as a conversational dialogue and I immediately engaged in Afeni's story about life, struggle, and progression. This book has changed my perspectives and life in many areas.
210 reviews
March 3, 2015
A very interesting story. I loved hearing Afeni talk about her time with the Black Panthers and thne on trial. Hearing about her drug addiction was interesting, but I was disappointed that it effectively took over her life and thus the remainder of the story after the trial in her 20s. I really did not enjoy the presentation. The author just describes interviewing Afeni and quotes her, occasionally adding commentary which I also didn't enjoy the content of. For those looking for information about Tupac this book contains very little.
July 2, 2017
This book was amazing! I've heard about the Shakur family's struggles and hardships. I had no idea however, the Intensity and hardships Akeni Shakur faced as a child, Black Panther, Wife and Mother. She overcame struggles and obstacles that seemed insurmountable. My true admiration was her ability to take accountability for her actions rather than placing blame. I applaud Jasmine Guy for the detailed descriptions that made me feel like a third person in the room mesmerized by Akeni's story.
I'd love to see a movie that captures this book.
Profile Image for Melanie.
2 reviews8 followers
September 16, 2015
I felt as if I was talking to mom...or sitting in on the conversations between Jasmine and Afeni. Very thankful to have read this book and received some of Afeni's wisdom. I finished this book on the day before Tupac was killed 19 years ago. It was very powerful.
Profile Image for Lacey.
41 reviews1 follower
October 22, 2007
jasmine guy is an incredible writer and afeni is an incrediblely strong woman! this book is an emotional journey and it was worth every single step!
Profile Image for Lisa Kekaula.
29 reviews5 followers
December 8, 2010
This is a very candid book written by Jasmine Guy about the mother of Tupac Shakur. I was floored by the honesty in this book and the courage to live through what she lived through.
Profile Image for Corey Burton.
109 reviews5 followers
March 22, 2020
This was super dope!! I especially enjoyed the format in having it occur over a series of conversations over years!

Afeni's willingness to share and be open and honest about her struggles provide a reference point for so many to learn and grow from. With that, It's especially encouraging reading these lines: "live life from here. Pick up from where I am now. I give my experience to you so you don't have to go down like I did to learn it." The power of history (herstory) on those that are left behind to read it can be life changing if we simply read their pages, and listen to their stories.

Another quote that I enjoyed, which I believe was from Jasmine Guy: "You can abandon someone and still be in the room." This just speaks to the need to not only be in attendance, but be engaged and active in the lives of those close to you. Simply being there is not enough!

Lastly, and super powerful was this: "after it all disintegrated, and I was alone with my memories and nowhere to go, after I watched them kill our men and lock up their brilliance, I made choices only an addict can make." This not only speaks to the immense pressure of her life as a Black Panther, but also the pressure that our women often have worrying about their men coming home. This world is a cruel place, and the pressure of knowing that each day isn't promised can be overwhelming even for some of the strongest and most brilliant minds! I am truly thankful for her example!! Black women, y'all are the real MVP!! As a black man, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the women of the movement that have been the rocks for our communities!!

Shout out to you Jasmine Guy for sharing your special relationship with Ms. Afeni Shakur with the world and all you invested in making sure to preserve and share these special experiences with us!
Profile Image for Desiree Dawson.
91 reviews1 follower
March 1, 2022
Before becoming one of the most well known members of the Black Panther Party, she was Alice Faye Williams. Growing up in the impoverish South, when her family moved to New York during the radical sixties, she became intoxicated by the promise of social change. By the time she turned twenty-one, Alice had a new name—- Afeni Shakur, derived from the Yoruba term for “lover of people.” In this book, Jasmine Guy, a true friend of Afeni, captures the evolution of a woman. The evolution of Afeni Shakur through the love, death, drugs, music and of course her beloved son.
I started this book in the summer and became super overwhelmed with her story. I stopped at exactly chapter 6. I decided to revisit the book, starting from the beginning. It’s fullllll of knowledge. This was the first time I flagged a book and was taking notes. There were several quotes and lessons I will never forget. Initially, I thought Afeni Shakur and Jasmine Guy were an unlikely collaboration, but the more I read the more I felt that they were the perfect match. Jasmine’s writing style was just like her personality….spicy, but eloquent and graceful. Afeni was such a powerful woman. I am glad got to read her story. Definitely a force to be reckoned with. I admire her strength. I am excited to see how Jasmine Guy captures her in the upcoming biopic.
12 reviews
February 8, 2022
Jasmine Guy does a fantastic job really bringing the reader into the intimate conversations that she had with Afeni. I love that this book really kept the focus on Afeni, not that I do not appreciate Tupac. I just think her story is one that needed to be told. She had a fight in her that was truly representative and special to the trajectory of the people she influenced. Afeni did not shy away from her downfalls and her flaws. I also can appreciate that she wanted the actors in her story to really tell their vantage points. It was not singular to her viewpoint. This was a read that allowed me to be introspective and there was an earnest vibe about it. Great read!
Profile Image for Madaiu Ysnahc.
3 reviews
May 28, 2023
I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Afeni Shakur many years ago. While my coworkers were fawning over her because she's "Tupac's mom," I was trying to get some alone time with her to have a conversation.

This book is the conversation that I hoped for, and so much more.

Afeni reveals to Jasmine Guy some really intimate details of her life. Through this book, I now know her to be a woman who made mistakes, acknowledged them and allowed herself to be held accountable for those mistakes which in turn gave her peace.

I'll probably re-read this book, and I definitely recommend it to others.
Profile Image for Kira Caillouet.
24 reviews2 followers
June 17, 2018
Jasmine Guy, known as Whitley Gilbert on the 90's sitcom Different World, portrays her dear friend Afeni Shakur in an honest and respectful matter. I appreciated how she takes into account others' perspectives of Ms. Shakur instead of solely relying on her own words and their friendship. In this biography, we learn of Ms. Shakur's activism in the 60's and the 70's. She steps out in the spotlight of her son Tupac to become center stage in her own story.

The title and the author attracted me to the book but the content kept my attention.
Profile Image for Milana.
39 reviews1 follower
May 30, 2019
Afeni is powerful, vulnerable and the voice of redemption. She shares her most pivotal life experiences from childhood struggles to the loss of her only son, Tupac Shakur. I deeply enjoyed her tellings of her time as a Black Panther and the time she spent in jail surrounding their New York demise. I felt a lesson being taught in each story she shared. This was almost a 5 star for me but I just think it was written with too much of Jasmine Guy’s voice. Had I been in the room with them both I would have kindly asked Jasmine to shut up so Afeni could talk lol.
Profile Image for Jasmine.
8 reviews2 followers
March 9, 2018
A wonderful book told striaght from the mouth of Afeni through Jasmine Guy. Although I knew some things about Afeni I was amazed at her ability to be self introspective and be open about the most painful times in her life. Her candor about her relationship with her children and her desire to hold herself accountable for the pain she has caused. Most importantly through all the pain, tragedy that has taken place, it was so refreshing to see her at peace with her story. Great read.
Profile Image for Ryan Mac.
759 reviews19 followers
December 5, 2020
I read this book for a book club and came in with little knowledge of Tupac and his mother Afeni Shakur. I feel like I still really don't know her very well. This book is basically a series of conversations between friends Jasmine Guy and Afeni Shakur where Jasmine clearly knows the history. If you have some basic knowledge about the history, this book probably fills in some details but I was left with just an outline of Afeni's life with big gaps. Makes me want to read more.
Profile Image for Lakita Wilson.
Author 17 books66 followers
June 23, 2021
This is my second time reading this. I picked it up this time, for research purposes, and couldn't put it back down. Jasmine Guy does an excellent job capturing the conflicting emotions of a woman who led a complicated life, and had trouble seeing her true worth. Afeni was a powerhouse justice warrior and understanding her early life helps the reader understand why she was ready and so capable of being an important part of the Black Panther Party.
December 5, 2017

To see Afeni's story written so raw and beautifully and also to have Sekyiwa open up as well is a real treat. It also gives a lot more context to Tupac's songs such as "Dead Mama" as it allows the reader to really envision the hurt and pain all 3 of them endured in that time together and apart.
Profile Image for Heather.
93 reviews
January 20, 2019
Dang! What a beautiful book! I’m a huge fan of Tupac’s music, but reading his mother’s story deeply moved me. Hers is a story of triumph over tragedy, pride, and addiction. I especially enjoyed the conversational style of it, and interjection of some of Jasmine Guy’s experiences. I’d recommend it to anyone.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 78 reviews

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