In 1991, Shaka Senghor shot and killed a man. He was, he says, “a drug dealer with a quick temper and a semi-automatic pistol.” Jailed for second degree murder, that could very well have been the end of the story. But it wasn’t. Instead, it was the beginning of a years-long journey to redemption, one with humbling and sobering lessons for us all.
Using literature as a lifeline, Shaka Senghor escaped a cycle of prison and desperation. Now his story kindles hope in those who have little.
At the age of 19, Shaka Senghor went to prison fuming with anger and despair. Senghor was a drug dealer in Detroit, and one night, he shot and killed a man who showed up on his doorstep. While serving his sentence for second-degree murder, Senghor discovered redemption and responsibility through literature — starting with The Autobiography of Malcolm X — and through his own writing.
Upon his release at the age of 38, Senghor reached out to young men following his same troubled path, and published Live in Peace as part of an outreach program bringing hope to kids in Detroit and across the Midwest. His activism attracted the attention of the MIT Media Lab, and as a Director’s Fellow, Senghor has collaborated on imagining creative solutions for the problems plaguing distressed communities. His memoir, Writing My Wrongs, was published in 2013.