The fact that a relative of 2Pac was involved is of course not a coincidence. Pac was in many ways a child of the movement. His mother Afeni was a member of the Panther 21, a group of Black Panther Party members who were arrested in 1969 and accused of planning to bomb police stations and other targets. After being held for two years, they were acquitted of all charges when the state’s case fell apart. Assata Shakur was Pac’s godmother. Pac was raised around the children of people involved in the BLA and other revolutionary organizations, including the son of Twyman Myers.
“These are the people that Pac grew up with,” Mutulu Shakur (who was sentenced to 60 years behind bars for the Brinks robbery when Pac was only 11) said in an interview. “All of them have seen their fathers and mothers arrested and all of them have seen or had to bury someone they knew. These are the people that Pac had as an example. People that he knew, and not just someone that he had heard of or some character that he had read about.”
To Tef Poe, who was heavily involved in the protests in Ferguson, that’s not surprising at all. He says the Shakur family is “the Kennedys of black liberation.” And Pac’s family tree was reflected directly in his music.
“The godson of Assata Shakur grows up, becomes the biggest rapper in the world, and his music was drenched in Black Panther rhetoric, Black Panther values,” Poe points out. “He understood that we have an overarching enemy, the world is messed up, oppression is a real thing, and the days of marching, chanting, singing, and praying are pretty much over.”
In fact, Poe sees a direct line between the Pac and the movement-starting rebellion in Ferguson.
“You can say that Ferguson was maybe, in a modernized context, one of the prophecies of 2Pac Shakur coming to life,” Poe explains. “He had a line right before he died. Someone asked him, ‘What happens if they kill you?’ He says, ‘If they kill me, they don’t wanna take me out the game because the motherfuckers after me won’t have any mercy for them. They’ll see what happened to me and be relentless about how they engage.’ That’s essentially what happened out there.”
“I felt like we were witnessing a Black Panther prophecy, a BLA prophecy, manifest through the gospel of 2Pac,” Poe continues. “We gotta take it all the way back to the beginning of the BLA which produced a 2Pac. So, they produced Pac, and then Pac produced the Ferguson generation. It’s a continuation of the same resistance that has been essentially going on since the days of the slave ships.”