Tupac Unpublished Childhood Poetry Written For His Imprisoned Black Panther Godfather Up For Auction

Tupac 2Pac

Tupac wrote the book of poetry at just 11 years old as a gift to his imprisoned godfather, Black Panther party member Jamal Joseph.

Tupac Shakur had a way with words from an early age, exemplified in an unpublished booklet of haiku poetry written and illustrated by Pac for his incarcerated Black Panther godfather. It is estimated to fetch up to $300,000 when it goes to auction Wednesday. 

11-year-old Tupac wrote and illustrated the booklet nearly 40 years ago. Sotheby’s claim the booklet is “the earliest known manuscript by Shakur to come to market.”

He addressed it to his godfather, Jamal Joseph, and other Black Panther Party members. He signed the booklet, “Tupac ♥ Shakur, Future Freedom Fighter.” 

Tupac Wrote The Booklet While Under FBI Surveillance

Sotheby’s description notes Tupac wrote the booklet while he, his mother Afeni Shakur, and his baby sister were under constant FBI surveillance. He sent it to Leavenworth federal penitentiary where his godfather was imprisoned.  

Jamal revealed he kept the booklet with him at Leavenworth for about a year before sending it to his wife. If not for that foresight, the manuscript may never have survived. “The Guards had been searching cells after a gang stabbing and were messing up prisoners’ books, letters and photos,” Jamal explained. “If you had money in your commissary account to pay for shipping and a decent counselor you could get a permission slip and take your stuff to the mailroom to send home.”  

The booklet appears as part of Sotheby’s “The Art and Influence of Hip Hop” collection. It also includes a number of love letters Tupac wrote to his high school sweetheart. Hip-hop artifacts and memorabilia “from the late 1970s through the “Golden Age” of the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, and up to the present,” also feature in the sale. Lots begin closing on March 30.  

The auction was curated in part by Monica Lynch, former president of Tommy Boy Records. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the programs coordinated by “Uncle” Ralph McDaniels for Queen Public Library. Non-profit community organization Building Beats will also receive funds.

Meanwhile, as reported by AllHipHop, Jamal Joseph is working with Jasmine Guy and the estate of Tupac Shakur on a biopic of his mother, Afeni. The film explores the two years from April 2, 1969, when Afeni Shakur was arrested, alongside 20 other Black Panthers. The Panther 21 were on trial for conspiracy to bomb police stations in New York.