Sept. 27, 1996 -- Two weeks after the drive-by shooting
death of Tupac Shakur near the glittery main strip of Las
Vegas, a very public murder that no one present can seem to
recall much about -- a memorial service for the trouble-prone
rapper and actor was held in New York City last Sunday by the
Nation Of Islam.
It was called "A Hip-Hop Day of Atonement,"
apparently intended as a mass meditation on the black on
black violence that now claims so many young men's lives. It
was originally scheduled to be held at Harlem's Mosque Number
Seven, a venue presided over in the sixties by the fiery
black leader Malcolm X, who was himself gunned down by fellow
black Muslims after he split with Nation of Islam Leader
Elijah Muhammad. The memorial service wasn't open to
everyone, but here's what we saw on the scene.
FEMALE MEMORIAL PARTICIPANT: I wish I had a chance to
actually meet Tupac. His music meant a lot to our people.
MALE MEMORIAL PARTICIPANT: Tupac is just one of many who
die on the streets everyday, this is an opportunity to --
another coming together for the community.
MTV: Due to a larger than anticipated turnout organizers
were forced to move the event across the street to the more
spacious Dempsey multi-service center where neither cameras
nor white people were allowed. However, the message being
delivered inside was broadcast to the hundreds waiting
MALE MEMORIAL PARTICIPANT: Whether I go inside and
actually hear the words that are being spoken, or if I'm out
here feeling the energy from people around here and other
people just standing on line that want to see more positive
things happen in our community, then my mission has been
MTV: Out on the street, event organizer Conrad Muhammad of
the Nation of Islam and some hip hop reformers reiterated
some of the sentiments being expressed inside.
Q-TIP, A Tribe Called Quest: Hopefully, this will be a
wake up call to motivate some of the youngsters -- because
that's what this is all about. To do something more in a
MINISTER CONRAD MUHAMMAD: We will commit ourselves, from
this day forward, to stop the negativity, to work hard to use
brother Tupac's life, not in vain, but to be a turning point
for the hip hop nation.
SPINDERELLA, Salt N' Pepa: We want the media to know, you
know, being that you guys were not inside that this is
something that we're trying to do constantly and our kids
that are writing those lyrics are living that life.
GRAND MASTER FLASH: It's a black owned art form but it was
made for the whole world to listen to, and if we as a
community do not take responsibility for what this is then
it'll be gone.
While everyone in Tupac's entourage the night he was
murdered appears to have been looking the other way when the
shots were fired, Las Vegas police say they are now getting
phone tips from other possible eye-witnesses. As for Tupac's
musical legacy, Death Row Records says that, contrary to some
reports, Shakur left behind only a handful of unreleased
tracks, six of which will be released on November 5th, on an
EP called "Machiavelli." His latest album "All
Eyez On Me," meanwhile, pole-vaults to number 6 on
Monday's "Billboard" albums chart up from 18 this
week, and 69 two weeks ago.