One of the weirder byways of the Sixties, from Michael Daly at the Daily Beast:
Tupac Shakur was still in his mother’s womb when she served as her own lawyer against charges that she and a dozen fellow Black Panthers had conspired to conduct a series of bombings in New York.
And as she did so, nobody admired Afeni Shakur more than the supremely insightful and devoutly decent newspaper columnist Murray Kempton. “No man who saw Afeni Shakur in those days could fail to be half in love with her,” Kempton later wrote….
Kempton lost touch with her as she fell deep into drugs. Two decades had passed when he encountered her in another Manhattan courtroom, this time as the mother of a defendant. The son she had fought so gloriously to keep from being born in prison now faced being sent there. Tupac was charged with weapons possession as well as sodomizing and sexually abusing a 19-year-old fan who had come to his hotel room and ended up being set upon by some of his entourage.
The Mouse King had become a rap star. Kempton noted that Tupac had told another journalist, “My mother was a revolutionary Black Panther and all that. But I also saw my mother as a crack addict. So I answer to no one. I follow my heart.”
Kempton now suggested in purest Kempton-esque terms, “The child is well-advised to distrust any heart that instructs him to answer to no one.” Tupac, he went on to say, “has the privilege, if scarcely the right, to improve his image as one born to be a thug with the myth of a crack addict mother.”…
Kempton had proven so right in so many ways that he should not have been surprised when Afeni asked him to begin visiting her son in prison and assume a role that struck him as dauntingly improbable…