It has been 20 years since Tupac Shakur, one of the greatest rappers and influential spokespeople for the black community, died in a Las Vegas hospital after being shot. But his movement and legacy live on. While his murder remains unsolved, fans around the globe are still dedicated to what he did for black people through his music, his legacy, and his work as a social activist.
Tupac was known for his explicit lyrics and sang about many topics, but his songs and poems about the struggles of being black in America are still relatable. His most notable songs about the struggles of being black are “Changes,” “White Man’z World,” “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Me Against the World”. Twenty years after his death, those songs continue to resonate for people in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
“Tupac just had a distinctive way about how he spoke and carried himself, not just through his music but him as a person, that really made him different and really made him stand out because he was so real,” says Hamilton Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist Eliyah Earnell. “He really helped grow the awareness of harassment against black people and the killings of black people at the time with his unforgettable music, speeches, and poems, and I believe he does that to this day in spirit.”
Tupac started his social activist movement attending churches, community centres and schools to tell black people not to be afraid of society and urge them to take a stand because it is their right. As Tupac’s musical fame grew, so did his fame for his speeches.
“If Tupac were still here I bet all of this controversy with Black Lives Matter would have been avoided,” says Burlington Black Lives Matter member Isiah Campbell. “I think Tupac would have taken action before it got any worse since he was so vocal and so active within the black community.”
Twenty years later the problems that black people face have stayed much the same. The issue of black people being harassed and killed by law enforcement officials has been one of the most controversial issues of late, leading to the rise of the BLM movement. Black Lives Matter helps promote awareness of the mistreatment of black people, particularly in North America. BLM activists take influences from black social justice warriors from the past to help spread the movement today.
“Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Tupac Shakur are all people from the past who have made an influence on black people, society, and equality,” says local Hamilton BLM member Abdullah Osayimwese, 34. Osayimwese says Tupac is the best example to use for this generation when it comes to talking about influential black social justice warriors and how the BLM movement should be addressed.
“If Tupac were alive today I believe that he would be just as vocal and active today as he was 20 years ago,” says Osayimwese, who says if Tupac were still alive the problems that black people face would not be so bad as they are today.
People across the GTHA have joined BLM groups through the internet and in person to help raise awareness of the movement. BLM activists around the globe have preached through social media that change is happening slowly and that they won’t stop because the movement is too important for the sake of black people and social justice.