By Erica Ford
“I’m not saying I’m going to change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”
Behind the chalk line it was just another crime but in the heart and soul of hip-hop, a giant was gone. As we celebrate what would have been Tupac Amaru Shakur’s 39th birthday, I look back on his body of work. It was more than beefs. It was the beginning of a trend to lull us to sleep and take away so many of our young right before our eyes. The idea that “the good die young” is why Pac worked hard to make “the Code of Thug Life” a reality in street. As the quote predicted, I know his death sparked a fire in me that guarantees that I will never give up on making “the code” a reality in our streets.
As we built a youth movement of hip-hop heads who were bold, audacious, committed and conscious of the need to believe in something other than themselves “the Code” became unwritten law. It was watching black power and hip-hop come together strong and united.
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Back home in Brooklyn, a new hip-hop beat was taking over the streets, Tupac had taking the world by storm and he was angry, dedicated and powerful. He too wanted to connect the love for hip-hop and the movement together. Our respected triple OG’s, Viola Plummer and Mutulu Shakur (Tupac’s stepfather) brought us together. It was time for “the Code” to the Thug Life to come out of the minds of prisoners to the heart and soul of young people on the streets. From South Central Los Angeles to Atlanta, Georgia and New York City the code of the streets was making peace real.
Tupac was committed to hood and in New York before our big kick off concert at Roy Wilkins Park, Queens in 1994 I brought the OG’s and Tupac to chop it up in my living room on how we can really bring a Code to the streets to stop the killings and put a law down that hustlers would follow. We had to bring peace to the hoods so that people could live in peace again. I pulled together Stretch (R.I.P.), Tupac, Supreme of Preme Team, Tropper from Farmers Crew, Chaz of Blackhand and couple others and we put a blueprint for order together. The sad thing was that the cycle of destruction continued, and most of these men were either incarcerated or killed.
We’ve gone from the hood to the White House, and almost 14 years later, hip-hop has changed the world. Nevertheless, the good are still dying too young.
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From June 1994 to April 2002, Ms. Erica Ford ran Tupac’s Code Foundation even after the rapper had passed away. Erica, Tupac, and his stepfather Mutulu Shakur, established The Code in 1994. The mission was simply to keep young people out of jail and to decrease “Black on Black” crime. Ms. Ford tells her tale of setting up Code with Pac and Mutulu and also how the rapper’s activist legacy lives on today.