In 1991, Shaka Senghor was sent to prison for second-degree murder. Today he is a lecturer at universities, a leading voice on criminal justice reform, and an inspiration to thousands.
In life, it's not how you start that matters. It's how you finish.
Shaka Senghor was raised in a middle-class neighborhood on Detroit's east side during the height of the 1980s crack epidemic. An honor roll student and a natural leader, he dreamed of becoming a doctor - but at age 11, his parents' marriage began to unravel, and the beatings from his mother worsened, sending him on a downward spiral that saw him run away from home, turn to drug dealing to survive, and end up in prison for murder at the age of 19, fuming with anger and despair.
Writing My Wrongs is the story of what came next. During his 19-year incarceration, seven of which were spent in solitary confinement, Senghor discovered literature, meditation, self-examination, and the kindness of others - tools he used to confront the demons of his past, forgive the people who hurt him, and begin atoning for the wrongs he had committed. Upon his release at age 38, Senghor became an activist and a mentor to young men and women facing circumstances like his. His work in the community and the courage to share his story led him to fellowships at the MIT Media Lab and the Kellogg Foundation and invitations to speak at events like TED and the Aspen Ideas Festival.
In equal turns, Writing My Wrongs is a portrait of life in the shadow of poverty, violence, and fear; an unforgettable story of redemption, reminding us that our worst deeds don't define us; and a compelling witness to our country's need for rethinking its approach to crime, prison, and the men and women sent there.
©2016 Shaka Senghor (P)2016 Random House Audio
I congratulate Shaka on his courage and life transformation . I learned of him when he appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Network. His story moved me. I, too am a convicted felon. I am a white 46 yr. old woman , with unloving childhood, who made poor choices in my life. My crime was less severe as his, but I too have felt the struggle of overcoming labels and judgment since my conviction in 2009. I did not serve time, but my life was forever changed. I had a hopeful future. Lots of potential and gifts, but never believed in myself. I bought your book on audio. I work in a machine shop. I struggled to get this job because of rumors and judgement in a very small town. I've been here for 3.5 years. Have proven myself worthy, at least as a hard worker, still not as a good woman or decent human being. I understand slamming doors in your face, but I will continue to forward. He is an inspiration to people like me out here. MyShawna Herr
Shaka's straight forward descriptions of life inside prison exposes the truth behind bars and sheds light on what we can do to save ourselves from our broken criminal justice system. He pulls the curtain back and takes us into the belly of the beast that is eating away at American culture.
Shaka's resilience, wisdom and strength shines through in a system dedicated to humiliation and punishment over redemption and restoration. His journey teaches us about hope and the promise of a better future.
This is a raw uncut story. Tells the inner conflict, struggle, and pains of a man who could have been considered and outcast or undesirable. It is painful yet inspiring.
Award-Winning Reviewer/Founder of Book Referees
One of the things I loved the most about Writing My Wrongs was the author's transparency with his experiences and the lessons he has learned.
Shaka Senghor take this emotional read to the next level. No one could have told his story better than him!!
This book will evoke Change in your Life!!!
This was one of the most inspiring brilliant books I have ever read the journey that this man went through was unbelievable and yet I went with him I learned with him I got scared with him I got mad at him and I loved him
Forgiveness and hello or what you have to sweat it's a journey I'll never forget
Right about Chapter 22 I could tell this was a changed man. I felt that after the solitary confinement and reentranace to general pop that you didn't let it shake you and you wanted to move forward. You were still organizing and counseling. It made me see how so many (Black) men have the potential but youthful decisions often stump their progression. It also made me see as a parent stability is important. And to have more compassion for those who unfortunately take a wrong turn or get dealt a bad hand. Sometimes I work with adolescents and in an urban environment it is heart wrenching and frustrating to see their behavior but I wanted to read this story to gain more compassion and take a different approach to my responses and reactions.
As I read this book after watching him on CBS this morning I know know that people can make a change if they work hard at it without giving up.
It may be the hardest thing to do but God sets a path for all of us and some of us do not understand. As if we reach out to one another and just try to understand what they are going threw they just might be able to
Make a change for themselves to get better. This book will never be forgotten.
I recommend this book to anyone who is curious about the personal effects of poor law enforcement and prison policies and the damaging toll of socio-economic disparities. This lens is so rarely seen or heard. Kudos to Senghor's courage to speak truth to power and to be open about his hard-fought transformation.
"Very inspirational, up there with the greats."
This a must read/listen to book. From the beginning I was hooked. Shaka's writing is amazing, honest, emotional and gripping. It's apparent that at a very young age 'J' was a young male who was very self aware and recognised his struggles with his mother, his parent's separation, the situation he found himself in living on the streets and crime and fundamentally himself.
Shaka maintained his mental strength and focused on the positives in his life and what he hoped he had to look forward to.
"Raw and insightful"
Written with honesty with a feeling of true regret. Really pushes the issue on rehabilitation and the prison system in general. Could I forgive and support 2nd chances if my child was murdered? I can only hope I never find out.
Loved it all. The story, the quote, the message. AMAZING.
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