I am a writer and mentor and have shared my story of redemption with youth and young adults at high schools and universities 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. 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 am an invited guest on local radio and television programs. In 2012, I was awarded the Black Male Engagement Leadership Award and have worked closely with the Knight Foundation to launch the Black Male Engagement (BMe) Community, a network of Black men engaged in their community. I am also a 2013 MIT Media Lab Director's Fellow and recently did a talk at TedxMidwest that was an audience favorite.
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. Most recently, 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.
Whether I'm writing or speaking to youth, I always speak the truth about the oppressive conditions of the 'hood and the not-so-glamorous side of the streets.
© 2013 BY SHAKA SENGHOR