Tupac Amaru Shakur Center For The Arts
Slain rap star's mom wants legacy to live on in arts center
The mother of a slain rap music star wants his
legacy as an artist and actor to live on in a big way in Stone Mountain, Ga. and government leaders are hoping that legacy helps spur an economic revival of the Memorial Drive corridor. Afeni Shakur, whose son Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas in 1996, helped dedicate the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts on Memorial Drive near Hambrick Road Aug, 18. The Center helped by what Ms. Shakur said was $10 million of Tupac's money, is scheduled to include a 500-seat auditorium art gallery, museum chronicling Tupac's career, recording and dance studios and film editing facilities when it opens in 2003, said Tre'Mayne Maxie, director of the center and a former staffer for U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney, of Decatur."I know working for Ms. McKinney, they 've been trying to revitalize Memorial Drive for a long time," Maxie told a crowd gathered at the center site. "We're hoping, and we know, the arts center will be a big push for that. "This will help revitalize our community. (The Shakur family) live here. They're really concerned," he said. The 20,000-square foot structure formerly housed a five-screen movie theatre on a 3.2 acre site at 5616 Memorial Drive. Tupac Shakur was a rap singer and actor who appeared in such movies as Juice and Poetic Justice, the latter with Janet Jackson. Shakur's mother, who was a member of the 1960,s radical political group of the Black Panthers, has lived in the area of the center for a decade. She established the Shakur Family Foundation in 1997 as a way to provide arts training to Atlanta area youth ages 12-18.
The foundation annually sponsors a performing arts summer camp in such areas as vocal technique, theatre and stage, creative writing and poetry at Georgia Perimeter College. The arts center, however, will serve as the camp's permanent home and allow it to be a year round offering, organizers said During the ceremony, the rapper's sister, Sekyiwa Shakur, re called the family moved to Dekalb County in the early 1990's where residents allowed them to live as a "simple family" despite her brother's growing fame before his death. She recalled money was tight while Tupac was building his career and when he spent some time in a New York jail. Area businesses helped the family with food and, ironically, two members of the family worked to help build the county's jail. Afeni Shakur thanked the audience for their support and asked them to remember victims of violence, who will be remembered along with Tupac in a memorial garden on the site. She said God helped Tupac by giving him the talent which led to his fame. God is a good god. Look what God did to my baby-elevated him, lifted him up, she said. "You know, everybody's got to die. God doesn't have to elevate everybody. God doesn't have to elevate everybody. God blessed my baby, so I don't have any complaints." Ms. McKinney admitted she was among those who did not relate to Tupac's lyrics-but began listening at the urging of her son. She said she understood Shakur was speaking for a generation of African-American youth who felt frustrated by the current economic and political system.
He knew there was a role for government. That's how he could write 'Dear Mr. President," she added. Dekalb County CEO Vernon Jones said the arts center will provide a good service to the community on a number of levels, including useas an economic development tool and as a way to give young people an alternative to crime and drugs. Jones noted the county's jail and the Shakur Arts Center are on the same Dekalb road. "We hope those young people are directed here and not down in that jailhouse," Jones said. Also speaking were the Rev. Herbert Daugherty, pastor of House of the Lord church in New York City which Tupac had been a member since age 11.
In the Event of My Demise
In the event of my Demise
when my heart can beat no more
I Hope I Die For A Principle
or A Belief that I had Lived 4
I will die Before My Time
Because I feel the shadows Depth
so much I wanted 2 accomplish
before I reached my Death
I have come 2 grips with the possibility
and wiped the last tear from My eyes
I Loved All who were Positive
In the event of my Demise
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