Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor
Shaka Senghor is a member of Oprah’s Super Soul 100, a group of 100 leaders who are using their voices and talent to elevate humanity (website). He is also a convicted murderer who plead guilty to second-degree murder and served nineteen years in prison, seven of those years in solitary confinement. Senghor grew up in a neighborhood on Detroit’s east side during the 1980’s. He was a good student who had good grades and ambitions, wanting to become a doctor. Just before he became a teenager, his parents’ marriage dissolved and the abuse from his mother increased; Senghor ran away from home and began dealing and taking drugs to stay alive, and was shot three times on a street corner in his neighborhood, but no one offered him any help or any hope. By age nineteen, he was imprisoned for murder, angry with himself and his world, both of which had let him down. In prison, after becoming the “worst of the worst” Senghor spent time in solitary confinement, but something unexpected happened there: after a letter from his young son, he rediscovered his passion for learning and his gift for journaling and storytelling and most of all: Hope. He read everything he could from the prison library, began meditating and journaling to learn more about himself and to learn to forgive himself, and ask the same of others, for the wrongs he had committed. Upon his release from prison, not quite forty-years-old, Senghor vowed to continue his work of self-discovery and became an activist, writer and speaker to help mentor young men and women who might find themselves in similar situations to his own, and help them find a different way out. Senghor’s story is not an easy one to read about, but there is something in his story that offers hope for his future and for the future of others in this raw and honest memoir. Senghor is a Fellow at the MIT Media Lab and Kellogg Foundation and has spoken at TED.
FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.