“Wide A-wa-ake Lo-ove!” — the Wilson County roots of Tupac Shakur.

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Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-1996).

Via his maternal grandfather, Tupac Amaru Shakur had roots in Wilson County. He and his mother, Afeni Shakur, were descendants of Jack and Cassey Exum Sherrod, whose homestead was profiled here. Jack and Cassey Sherrod’s daughter Fannie married George Washington Powell, a native of northern Nash County. The couple and their children were tenant farmers or sharecroppers and moved often among the counties surrounding Wilson. Fannie and George Powell’s daughter Lena B. Powell married a Greene County native, Walter L. Williams, and this family also appear to have been sharecroppers in Wilson and bordering counties. Walter L. Williams Jr. married Rossie Bell McLellan of Robeson County, North Carolina, in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1944. The couple returned to North Carolina, where the future Afeni Shakur was born Alice Faye Williams in 1947.


In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Sherard, 26, wife Cassey, 25, and daughter Fanny, 4.

In the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherod, 37; wife Cassey, 28; and children Fanny, 12, William, 9, Ida, 7, Marcy, 2, John, 5, and Benny, 11 months.

On 18 October 1893, George Powell, 24, of Town of Wilson, son of Lawson and Lany Powell of Nash County, married Fannie Sherrod, 23, of Town of Wilson, daughter of Jack and Cassa Sherrod of Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion minister L.B. Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Rev. L.J. Melton, Rev. Fred M. Davis, and S.A. Smith.

In the 1900 census of North Whitakers township, Nash County: farmer George Powell, 33; wife Fannie, 20; and sons Earnest, 4, Sylvester, 3, and James C., 1.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer George W. Powell, 42; wife Fannie, 40; and children Earnest, 14, Sylvester, 12, Carter, 9, Lena, 8, Burser, 5, Ida, 3, and Bruss M., 2.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer George Powell, 51; wife Fannie, 51; and children Silvester, 22, Cartis, 20, Lena, 18, Bertha, 16, Ida, 14, and Fannie, 12.

On 31 March 1920, Carter Powell, 21, of Green County, son of George and Fannie Powell, married Anna Barnes, 18, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Harry and Rena Barnes, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. George Powell witnessed the ceremony.

On 12 June 1921, Lena B. Powell, 21, of Saratoga, daughter of G.W. and Fannie Powell, married Walter Williams, 28, of Greene County, son of Henry and Sarah Williams, in Saratoga. Rev. E.H. Cox of U.A.F.W. church presided, and John Williams of Saratoga, H.T. Dillard of Wilson, and Mable Speight of Saratoga witnessed.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer George Powell, 60; wife Fannie, 60, washer woman; and children Bruce, 21, and Fannie, 16.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn Road, farmer Walter L. Williams, 37; wife Lena B., 29; and children Walter Jr., 8, Ernest H., 6, Lafaett, 3, Hattie M., 1, Ada G., 1, and sister-in-law Fannie I. Powell, 16.

George Powell died 18 August 1930 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1869 in Nash County to Lawson Powell and Lannie Taylor; was a farmer; was married to Fannie Powell. Informant was Robert Powell, Stantonsburg.

In the 1940 census of Great Swamp township, Wayne County: farmer Walter Williams, 48; wife Lena, 39; and children Walter Jr., 18, Ernest Hubert, 16, Lafayette, 14, Hettie May, 12, Ada Gold, 10, Juanita, 8, Sharon, 6, and Charles Ray, 9 months.

In 1942, Walter Williams Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 April 1922 in Walstonburg, North Carolina; resided at 505 East Chapel Street, Goldsboro; his contact was mother Lena B. Williams, Route 1, Fremont, North Carolina; and his employer was Ossie Wiggs, Route 1, Goldsboro.

On 26 July 1944, Walter Williams Jr., 23, of Walstonburg, North Carolina, son of Walter Williams Sr. and Lena B. Powell, resident of Norfolk, married Rosabella McLellan, 26, of Rowland, North Carolina, daughter of Kenny McLellan and Rosa Lee Powell, resident of Portsmouth, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Alice Faye Williams [later, Afeni Shakur] was born 10 January 1947 in Robeson County, North Carolina, to Rossie Bell McLelland and Walter Williams Jr.

Joseph Sylvester Powell died 13 July 1958 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1896 in Wayne County  to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; was unemployed; was married to Minnie Powell; lived at 108 Powell Street. Informant was Bertha Reid, Wilson.

Bertha Powell Reid died 6 June 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 January 1904 to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; and resided at 118 Irma Street. Mrs. Fannie Burgess, 404 East Banks Street, Wilson, was informant.

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born 16 June 1971 in New York City. [His birth name was Lesane Crooks.]

Bruce Powell died 5 October 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 December 1906 to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; was a farmer; was married to Blonnie Sauls; and resided at 108 Powell Street.

Rev. Walter Larry Williams died 6 November 1973 in Kenly, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 March 1893 to Henry and Sarah Williams. Informant was Mrs. Ada Jones, Kenly.

James Carter Powell died 13 October 1980 in Wilson Per his death certificate, he was born 4 January 1900 in Nash County to G.W. Powell and Fannie Sherrod; worked as a butler; and was a widower.

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Afeni Shakur (1947-2016).

Many thanks to Edith Lee Harris for bringing this connection to my attention.

Image of Tupac Shakur courtesy allhiphop.com, copyright holder unknown; image of Afeni Shakur (c) Associated Press, 2016.




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