The Premature Death of Leadership Development

For one reason or another, I have been groomed to be a loyal follower of Tupac. I have always been a fan of his music, poetry, acting, rhetoric, and overall message. As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, I even took a class on Tupac titled, The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur led by an amazing and brave former professor of mine, Georgia Roberts. Now, as a graduate student in New  York City, I’m taking a class on leadership development. Recently, we were given the opportunity to either write about a leadership development topic that interested us or the leadership development journey of a real person. Naturally, I chose Tupac Amaru Shakur.

While I had written papers about Tupac and his leadership capacity in the past, it was different writing about his leadership development. Professor Mark Lipton made it clear that if we were to write about a person, we must explore why and how this person became a leader. I began searching for themes throughout Tupac’s life that seemed relevant to this topic. However, the more and more I immersed myself in the research, the theme that felt most appropriate to recognize was that Tupac’s leadership development journey began and was interrupted. With the recent death of Trayvon Martin, the research I did on Tupac’s leadership potential has been at the forefront of my thoughts. What would it mean to study the leadership development of Trayvon Martin? Can we? Or can we only fight the ills that took him and his potential from the world? Either way, we must continue to fight for the possibility of leadership and work to prevent premature death.  Organizations who encourage leadership development should be concerned by the death of figures like Tupac and Trayvon and take steps to work against youth violence because the loss of any individual is the loss of their potential.

The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation exists today to provide a place for young people to participate, explore, and enjoy their own leadership development. To get involved, the TASF and the The Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library are currently accepting paper abstracts from scholars, educators, and students to participate in the Tupac Amaru Shakur Collection Conference this coming September in Atlanta, Georgia.

by Rebecca Alvy

Leave a comment


  1. Harvey

     /  April 11, 2012

    Your post has raised some important issues. To begin, when leadership development is interrupted–you suggested a “premature death”–is it too presumptuous to wonder what one’s vision would have been? Can others, that is, “followers” still act on that vision if meaning can be realized? Also, leadership development efforts should address how to prevent the premature death of individuals and ideas. It is a tragedy for everyone when important and inspirational ideas do not have a chance to bloom.


  2. Mickie

     /  April 12, 2012

    It is interesting to invoke the potential leadership of these two men. I agree with you, and in their absence I think there is an opportunity for another type of leadership development. What can be done to prevent premature and violent deaths? Who will be impassioned to this fight out of these tragedies? Leaders are made everyday and often the spark comes from negative, not positive, experiences.



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