Renowned author of Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison, Shaka Senghor at Charles H. Wright Museum Monday, March 14
An appearance on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday” is usually an affirmation that the guest is officially recognized as an intellectual or a spiritualist who has transcended ordinary life experiences to join the ranks of the enlightened. They are typically the sages who’ve lead stellar lives and have long been considered pillars of society. But, award-winning author and motivational speaker, Shaka Senghor joins that company social commentators after taking a turn on the path to higher understanding, which lead him to a 19-year stint in prison.
On Monday, March 14, Senghor will discuss Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and Redemption in an American Prison, at a book signing at the Charles H. Wright Museum and his experiences pre- and post- incarceration. Senghor’s book is one of familial intensity as he recounts his unconventional coming of age, the immense despair he experienced in the early years of his prison sentence and how he eventually emerged more enlightened and profoundly aware of the social dynamics that almost caused his demise.
Senghor’s incarceration was not of the nature of political imprisonment or a social injustice, as in the case of those he champions like Nelson Mandela and Assatta Shakur. He went to prison for killing a man when he was just 17-years old. A murder he admits he committed, and the type of street altercation that’s all too common in distressed urban environments; intoxicated young men and a drug transaction gone wrong.
Senghor writes in a letter to his victim in the prologue of his book, Writing My Wrongs: Life Death and Redemption in an American Prison.
“It takes strength to walk away from an argument. Back then, I didn’t have that strength. I was afraid and I allowed my fears to dictate my actions. … When you and I encountered each other, I was already programed to kill. I had convinced myself it was better to shoot than be shot; that the handgun in my pocket was the only thing that could protect me.”
“You have to understand and you have to understand the thinking of young inner city kids, mostly black and brown males who grow up in these very volatile environments. And once you understand a lot of the abuses and the high level of gun violence they are exposed to and the proximity to death and danger, then you can begin to help them cope and help them understand what their own cognitive processes are, what their emotional processes are and how they are psychologically damaged by their environment. You can fix that if you understand it.
“It’s also important to bring in people they can relate to, even inmates and people who have been in prison who have information and experiences that they can impart to these kids in ways nobody else can. I try to play my part in terms of helping young men and women understand the consequences of those lifestyles.”
To meet the author and hear more of his riveting account of his ascension from prison to prominence join us for an open discussion at the at the Charles H. Wright Museum on Monday, March 14 at 6:30 p.m.