Afeni Shakur

Afeni Shakur


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



Jasmine Guy, the woman, the dancer, the actress, the writer, and the contemporary

of Tupac [hung] with him and Jada Pinkett Smith during his life causing them

to be there in a big way during both shootings and his death.



Afeni Shakur:  Evolution of a Revolutionary

By Jasmine Guy

Reviewed by Isidra Person-Lynn


The book was emblazoned with white letters on the stark black cover “Afeni Shakur” followed by smaller gold letters “Evolution of a Revolutionary.”  But it was the author’s name below that caused a double take: “Jasmine Guy.”

Jasmine Guy?  Whitley?  Why would Whitley of “Different World” comedic TV fame be writing about Tupac’s famed mother—a former Black Panther?  Curiosity moved this reviewer to pick it up and satisfaction moved the story throughout until the triumphant ending. 

It turns out, this biography/autobiography (Atria Books 2004 ISBN 0-7434-7053-2) wasn’t watered down by “Whitley” at all.  It was written by Jasmine Guy, the woman, the dancer, the actress, the writer, and the contemporary of Tupac who hung with him and Jada Pinkett Smith during his life causing them to be there in a big way during both shootings and his death.  Jasmine formed a bond with Pac’s “Dear Mama,” Afeni Shakur, and over the next 10 years culled Afeni’s story, building a sisterhood in the process.

It is a first book for both of them and while there is much more to be said about both, there is enough there to hopefully jumpstart Generation X to read more and learn about the names and people mentioned within.  It brings the Panther Party’s importance into the light, the police infiltration into reality and the crack craze into perspective.  There were reasons for all of the above and this book explains all that.  The only thing it doesn’t explain–or even touch upon– adequately was why when Tupac died on Friday Sept. 13 was he cremated on Saturday, Sept. 14?    Internet photos affirm there was an autopsy, but this sudden disposal by Afeni has led to the “Tupac is not dead” mantra of some of our youth, The Tupac Machiavelli syndrome and Tupac: Resurrection.  (In a way, the Tupac Resurrection was real. In that movie, his life—and death—was told in his own words.)

Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary opens the door to the young mother’s pain and shows the parallels between Pac’s life and his mother’s. Both young revolutionaries took to the national stage when they were much too young. His story has been well documented, but her story explains how you go from being a Panther revolutionary, to a crack head, and back again.  There were reasons. Today she heads the empire that Pac built.

This book is a must read for all struggling with addictions.  It speaks of the work Afeni did, the steps that need to be taken to free oneself from the drug of choice. Applaud Jasmine Guy for stepping out of her privileged personae to take on such a meaty subject and perhaps being the one unsuspecting soul who can bring Afeni’s life to our young countrymen who need to hear it.

Isidra Person-Lynn is a writer and mother of five sons living in Los Angeles. For comments:

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what’s in your heart than what’s in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America’s shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, “Happy can make you money, but money can’t make you happy.”

*   *   *   *   *

1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *



update 30 December 2011




Home   Thomas Long Table

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.