I am a writer and mentor and have shared my story of redemption with youth and young adults at high schools, universities and conferences across the nation. While serving nineteen years in prison, I transformed my life, and once I returned home, I began mentoring young males who were headed down the same destructive path that led me to prison.
Despite the crime I was convicted of or the lengthy sentence I served, I refuse to allow my past to define who I am or what I am capable of. I use my story to inspire and motivate others and unpack the causes of youth violence. I have worked with youth at the Detroit Job Corps, Cody High School, Don Bosco Hall, Osborn High School, Henry Ford High School, and Tri-County Educational Center, to name a few. I have also lectured at the University of Wisconsin–Platteville, the University of Michigan, Fordham University, Wayne State University, Marygrove College, and Pace University, and now teach a course as part of The Atonement Project, a project I created to help victims and violent offenders heal through the power of the arts. In 2012, I was awarded the Black Male Engagement Leadership Award and serve as the national spokesperson for Black Male Engagement (BMe), a network of Black men engaged in their community. I am a 2013 MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow and a 2014 W.K. Kellogg Community Leadership Network Fellow. In March 2014, I shared my story on the world-renowned TED stage, and in just four months my talk received more than 1,000,000 views.
While incarcerated, I discovered my love for writing, eventually penning six novels, including the highly addictive street lit series, Crack: Volume 1 and Crack: Volume 2 Lockdown. In 2012, I published some of my writings in a book for misguided youth entitled Live in Peace: A Youth Guide to Turning Hurt into Hope, which is a companion piece to my mentoring program, Live in Peace Digital and Literary Arts Project. Just as I had used writing to process my emotions while I was incarcerated, I now help youth address emotional, physical, and sexual abuse through the power of writing.
© 2014 BY SHAKA SENGHOR