By Special to the Daily World
A short play and gallery exhibit opens in Stone Mountain commemorating one woman’s successful self defense in the trial of the New York Panther 21. Afeni Shakur, mother of renowned Tupac Amaru Shakur, was among several leaders in the Black Panther Party who were charged in a conspiracy to blow up New York City department stores, subway stations and police stations.
Despite the advice of co-counsel, the court, her husband, and friends, Shakur, facing over 200 years in jail, defended herself against all 156 charges at the young age of 24 while pregnant with son, Tupac Shakur.
Using court records, the short play and gallery exhibit will feature her original opening statement, cross-examination of an undercover informant, and an eloquent closing statement.
The exhibit includes original TV news coverage (from 1969-1971) anchored by CBS’ Walter Cronkite and others.
The play also captures her innermost thoughts and feelings after being released on a $100,000 bail bond raised by communities, churches, celebrities and activists including Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Jane Fonda, and Barbara Ann and Fredrica Teer, only to have her bail revoked and returned to jail.
The play and exhibit opens on Friday, May 13 at the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, exactly 40 years from the day of Afeni Shakur’s acquittal, with a special commemorative VIP showing that will include food and live music.
The center is located at 5616 Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain. A VIP reception will start at 6:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $40 and includes live music and the VIP reception.
The play, originally compiled by Tre’ Maxie, is written and directed by Hilda Willis — recently noted for her role in “Mad at Miles.”
Proceeds from the play will benefit the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation — a 501(c) 3 public charity in DeKalb County dedicated to serving Atlanta Metropolitan youth through arts and culture, gardening, leadership training, and conflict resolution.
For tickets and more information about the play and exhibit, youth programs, and summer camps, call 404-298-4222 or visit www.tasf.org. Students may attend for $10, with additional performances on May 14, May 20 and May 22 at 8 p.m. May 15 and May 22 will have performances at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. General admission is $20 for adults; matinees are $15 and $5 for students.