Tupac Shakur Statue Commissioned For Georgia Park

May 11, 2017

Tupac Shakur is one of the most famous rappers in history. Until his murder in 1996 at the age of 25, Shakur was a figurehead of the West Coast rap scene. 

So Tupac Shakur’s connection to Georgia might surprise you.

His mother, Afeni Shakur, ran an arts education center for children in Stone Mountain until her death in 2016. The property included a statue of Tupac Shakur and memorial garden.

The Shakur family has since removed the statue and sold the property to Stone Mountain businessman Jim Burnett. He wants to keep the garden going for fans and community members and has commissioned a new statue of Shakur to be unveiled in September.

He recently took me on a tour in the rain. Note: That sound in the background is raindrops on our umbrellas.

The old Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, a previously-abandoned building itself, is surrounded by abandoned shopping centers, restaurants and warehouses on Memorial Drive.
Credit Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Interview

Jim Burnett: Rumor has it that Tupac's ashes are spread out over the grounds here. Ms. Afeni did a phenomenal job getting everything started. I believe God has blessed me to continue with this park.

This is probably one of the only green spaces outside of I-285 in this area with a park. We're going to have an amphitheater. We'll have concerts. We'll have weddings. We're going to have a Tupac statues and other statues of fallen entertainers, people that have died before their time.

Bevington: For the fans of Tupac, what do you hope this garden will represent?

Burnett: Number one, it's so peaceful out here. Some of the trees that are planted here are planted in remembrance of somebody who'd passed. I had one woman come and say "Can I see my tree?" I said "Who's it for?" and she said it was for her dog.

Bevington: So this is a place not only to remember Tupac but to remember people whom we've lost too soon.

Burnett: Most definitely. We're going to make sure that it's a place where people can come. I'm not charging you to get in to come to the park.  

Rickey Bevington talks to Jim Burnett in the old Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts memorial garden about his plans for a new Tupac statue.
Credit Stephen Fowler | GPB News

Bevington: What do you want the sculpture to look like?

Burnett: We already have the guy who's already started on it. We want that particular sculpture to look more like Tupac. He will always be remembered. I promised the family that the Shakur name will never die. Because he's a part of our history and I'm not going to be the one that kills that name as far as this park is concerned.

This area here is a water feature. All of these bricks are from people that have passed. You've got in memory of Nina Simone. Lisa "Left Eye" Lopez. We're going to refurbish this and have this water feature continue.

That area is going to be cleared out and that's where the amphitheater is going to sit.

Bevington: How many acres is this property?

Burnett: Six and a half acres. And we even have a lake behind these trees here.    

Although the old Tupac statue is long gone, the base and gothic cross fountain remains.
Credit Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Bevington: Tell me about the Tupac house.

Burnett: This area is going to be the whole Tupac area. That's where the new statue's going to go.

Bevington: Why move the location?

Burnett: This was Tupac can look over the whole park. And just see everything that's going on. We didn't want the emphasis to be strictly on Tupac because we're going to have other fallen stars in this park. Here's the Tupac House.

Bevington: I'll describe it. It's a one room house and it has a mural of Tupac that looks like it's in progress.

Burnett: No, that mural is finished. They used to have classes in here.

It's been here for years and you can see how good a shape it's in. All this needs is cleanup.

Bevington: It's almost like a cabin that you might have spent time in at summer camp. It's just plywood with screen windows and it's one room like a one-room schoolhouse if you're going to have classes in here.

Burnett: They used to have classes in this pavilion along with the other two pavilions that you saw. We're going to have memorabilia in here. We're going to have TV monitors where people who come into the Tupac House for concerts will have their own little area. The statue's going to be there. It's going to be 7 feet tall.

Bevington: Is the sculpture itself going to be 7 feet tall or will it be 7 feet on top of a pedestal?

Burnett: It's going to be 7 feet tall.

Bevington: Larger than life like the man himself.

Burnett: Exactly. We wanted to make sure people could stand next to it and take pictures.

A brick sponsored by the Tupac Shakur Foundation sits in the peace garden at the old Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Stone Mountain, Ga.
Credit Stephen Fowler / GPB News

Bevington:  You've been having a lot of conversations with people who worked with Ms. Afeni and also with the Shakur family. How are people remembering her and her legacy here in Stone Mountain?

Burnett: Oh man. She was a person that was inspired to help children learn the arts, acting, dancing whatever it may be. People in this neighborhood loved her.