parish crooks

2Pac: The Name, 1971.

On June 16, 1971, Lesane Parish Crooks was born in East Harlem, New York. Though his mother, Alice Faye Williams (Afeni Shakur), soon would change his name to the one which the whole world would later know him by: Tupac Amaru.

The name itself comes from an eighteenth century Peruvian Incan chief and revolutionary, who died opposing the oppressing Spanish rule.

But the story of why Tupac’s mother would change her son’s name goes deeper than the inspiring story of a long gone revolutionary leader. Afeni was, curiously, herself part of a revolutionary group, namely “The Black Panthers”. And as far as facts goes, Shakur was actually a commonly adopted name among “The Panthers”. It is Arabic and means something like “thankful to God”.

Amaru, on the other hand, is Quechua, the main launguage of the Incas, still spoken by over 8 million people, and it means “shining/sacred serpent”. 

School is really important: reading, writing, arithmetic. But what they tend to do is teach you reading, writing, arithmetic… then teach you reading, writing, arithmetic again. Then again, then again, just making it harder and harder just to keep you busy. And that’s where I think they messed up. There should be a class on drugs. There should be a class on sex education. No, REAL sex education class, not just pictures and illogical terms…There should be a class on scams, there should be a class on religious cults, there should be a class on police brutality, there should be a class on apartheid, there should be a class on racism in America, there should be a class on why people are hungry, but there not, their class is on…gym….Their class is like algebra. we have yet to go a store and said, “Can I have X Y + 2 and give me my Y change back, thank you.” You know?…Like foreign languages. I think that they are important, but I don’t think it should be required. Actually, they should be teaching you English, and then teach you how to understand double talk, politician’s double talk. Not teaching you how to understand French and Spanish and GERMAN. When am I going to Germany? I can’t afford to pay my rent in America! How am I going to Germany?

—Tupac, Age 17 On the Topic of Education, 1988.