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James Madison and Tupac Shakur each fought for what he considered justice.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.


Words can be dangerous when you think they’re safe! They can fire electrodes from taser guns, entice a kiss, provoke a slap, change an election, and stop wars.

Some are disappearing. They’re off limits for reasonable people. I was going to say “tolerant people,” but I better be careful. The word tolerant can be unsafe.

There were two warriors who dared to use words to influence millions of people—James Madison and Tupac Shakur. One wrote law and one broke law. Both fought for what he considered justice to be.

James Madison and Tupac Shakur were risk-takers. Tupac’s words sizzled with contradictions in anger and compassion. They sold 75 million records worldwide. James’s words helped found a nation. He became the principal writer of the American Constitution and the fourth president of the United States. A young man commented, “Tupac was the grandfather of hip-hop rap and James was the grandfather of the United States Constitution.

Tupac was shot by a Southside Crip at age 25 in 1996 and James died in 1836 of old age. Tupac danced to his death with fights, bullets, and thousands of rapped words. James rarely danced or battled with guns. With a small voice and weak body he was often forced to bed with epilepsy, fevers, and liver attacks, and then he was back reading, speaking, and writing words to craft a new government. His words today affect the freedoms and responsibilities of every American.

He was convinced that the United States needed a system of government based on laws, not on the most politically popular person. Power should be spread democratically among people. He didn’t know how to stop slavery, but he hated slavery. He argued, “People must resist tyranny. The government’s power must have checks and balances.” Today his words may sound like formal fancy talk, but they were the words that James ate for breakfast, lunch, and supper.

James and Tupac spoke and wrote words that are now threatened, words like truth, responsibility, evil, and government. Some people might protest, “That’s a ridiculous comparison! Tupac

used profanity, spoke of crime, gangsters, and sex, but James spoke with dignity about important subjects.”

It’s true that Tupac declared, “Yes, I am a thug. That’s because I came from the gutter and I’m still here.” He also declared, “The only way I’ve been practicing my whole life to live my life, is to be responsible for what I do.”

Tupac’s language was from a different time and place. He knew the ghetto and Shakespeare. He knew the ugliness of drugs, crime, and poverty, the beauty of a mother’s love, and the magnetism of a stage to pour out your reality. Tupac rapped:

“I see no changes, all I see is racist faces

Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races

We under, I wonder what it take to make this

One better place, let’s erase the wait state

Take the evil out the people, they’ll be acting right

‘Cause both black and white are smokin’ crack tonight

And only time we deal is when we kill each other

It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other.

Two men used dangerous words in the battlefield for justice. May such words never disappear, lest we stumble in holes they will leave.

This is Barbara Steiner with a subject I find swirling in history and today.  Please check out

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