"When he showed up for anybody, he showed up his best": Activist Erica Ford talks about working with Tupac Shakur

2012 Coachella Music Festival - Day 3
Tupac Shakur's Hologram (Image via Getty/Christopher Polk)

During a round-table conversation with AllHipHop recently, Erica Ford shared her working experiences with Tupac Shakur, emphasizing his commitment and authenticity whenever he engaged with others.

"When he showed up for anybody, he showed up his best and, he showed up real."

Ford remarked, capturing the essence of Tupac's interactions with those around him.

According to Erica Ford, the legacy of Tupac Shakur continues to be a powerful influence in the community and among activists striving for change and empowerment.

Erica's words provided a vivid embodiment of this influence, evident through the words of a dedicated activist and community leader from New York, who had the unique opportunity to work closely with Tupac.

Erica Ford praises Tupac Shakur after working with him


Erica Ford's interaction with Tupac Shakur and his family left a profound mark on her, reshaping her approach to community activism. Her recollections of Tupac paint a picture of a person who was not only a global superstar but also a deeply committed activist who brought his complete self to every endeavor.

"Working with his entire family was like something… it's life-changing in a sense that you could look at him on a movie screen, and you see him in person, and it's the same person." Ford explained.

According to Ford, this authenticity was critical to Tupac's ability to inspire and mobilize people for social change.

Tupac's intelligence and the education he received from figures in the Black Panther Party were also highlighted by Ford as significant factors in his approach to activism.

"He's got a mind that is beyond the world. They educated himnand trained him in a manner that you know would bring some fundamental change for black youth in America," she said, emphasizing the structured and powerful nature of his intellectual and activist training.

Ford's admiration of Tupac's character and commitment to authenticity and social change was evident In every discussion about him.

Erica Ford and Tupac Shakur's collaboration

Erica Ford and Tupac Shakur, with his stepfather Mutulu Shakur, founded The Code Foundation in 1994. The primary mission of this foundation was to keep young people out of jail and to reduce Black-on-Black crime, aiming to establish a set of ethical guidelines known as the Code of Thug Life, which Tupac and Mutulu initially created.

These guidelines were designed to instill a sense of responsibility and community among young individuals involved in street life. They emphasized rules like respecting neutral territories during events, protecting civilians, and condemning senseless violence.

Erica Ford ran The Code Foundation from its inception in June 1994 until April 2002, continuing even after Tupac died in 1996. Her leadership helped to extend Tupac's legacy of activism and community engagement beyond his lifetime. The foundation was part of a broader effort to bring peace and structural change to communities plagued by violence and crime and was directly involved in organizing events like concerts and community rallies to promote its cause.

The collaborative work between Erica and Tupac also included organizing the Million Youth March in 1989, which rallied thousands of young people across the United States to stand against injustices and promote positive community action.

Tupac Shakur, an influential figure in hip-hop, remains iconic for blending music with social activism. Rising to fame in the early 1990s, his lyrics often highlighted systemic inequalities and urban strife, reflecting his deep roots in the Black Panther legacy.

His albums, including 2Pacalypse Now and All Eyez on Me, are critical and commercial successes, shaping the genre's narrative style. Tragically killed in 1996, Tupac's work continues to influence artists and activists. He was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, cementing his legacy as a profound voice in music and culture.

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