Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison

By Shaka Senghor
In 1991, Shaka Senghor was sent to prison for second-degree murder. Today, he is a lecturer at the University of Michigan, 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, and self-examination, tools that 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 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. Writing My Wrongs is a redemption story told through a stunningly human portrait of what it's like to grow up in the gravitational pull of poverty, violence, fear, and hopelessness. It's an unforgettable tale of forgiveness and hope, one that reminds us that our worst deeds don't define who we are or what we can contribute to the world. And it's a lasting testament to the power of compassion, prayer, and unconditional love, for reaching those whom society has forgotten. From the Hardcover edition.


    REVIEW QUOTES
"[A] harrowing [portrait] of life behind bars . . .Gritty, visceral . . . Senghor writes about the process of atonement and the possibility of redemption, and talks of his efforts to work for prison reforms that might turn a system designed to warehouse into one aimed at rehabilitation." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times My first glance at the person on the book's cover a dreadlocked, tattooed, heavyset black male left me skeptical. Full of judgment. Why should I be interested in the story of a murderer? But as [Senghor's] words unfolded, so did my understanding of what it means to fall short, to go astray, to lose your way. . .His story touched my soul. O: The Oprah Magazine "[A] powerful memoir." The Washingtonian No one has forced us to look at the core questions about humanity and our broken criminal justice system with more authenticity and clarity than Senghor. . .If Senghor s tale is any indication, redemption, mercy and grace aren t just emotional ideals or spiritual buzzwords. They are the sharp, effective tools that can be used to rebuild lives and communities, one person at a time. Erica Williams Simon, TIME.com Probably the most important book I've read in the past few years . . . Few people, sadly, come out on the end of two decades of hard time and find their way back to the life Shaka is now leading. Here, he tells us why that is, and why it doesn't have to stay that way. Shaun King, New York Daily News Senghor s story, laid bare, forces us to ask: is this not our fellow human being? Does he not deserve a second chance? If he failed himself in the most profound way, how did the rest of us fail him too? The Guardian Extraordinary . . . You will reconsider everything you ve ever thought about poverty, the prison industrial complex and the connection between the two. Essence [An] inspiring book that gives hope for those who believe in the redemption of the incarcerated. . .Not the usual ghetto tale. Publishers Weekly "An extraordinary, unforgettable book. Writing My Wrongs is a necessary reminder of the deep humanity, vulnerability and potential that lies within each one of us, including those we view as 'thugs' or 'criminals'. Shaka's story illustrates that if we muster the courage to love those who do not yet love themselves, a new world is possible." Michelle Alexander, professor of law, Ohio State University, bestselling author of The New Jim Crow Shaka Senghor's terrific and inspiring book affirms that we are all more than the worst thing we've ever done. This beautiful and compelling story of recovery and redemption offers all of us powerful truths and precious insights as we seek recovery from decades of over-incarceration and excessive punishment. Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, bestselling author of Just Mercy A profound story of neglect, violence, discovery, redemption and inspiration. Consistently touching and surprising, Writing My Wrongs is, ultimately, deeply hopeful. Prepare to have your preconceptions shattered. J.J. Abrams, director, writer, producer "Shaka Senghor is a once-in-a-generation leader, championing a cause that will define a generation: mass incarceration. Behind prison walls, Writing My Wrongs is already taking its place alongside the memoirs of Malcolm X and George Jackson as must-read literature. In the broader society, its publication will propel him into the ranks of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander powerful visionaries whose words are shaking the foundations of our nation's understanding of itself." Van Jones, CNN contributor, bestselling author of Rebuild the Dream and The Green Collar Economy I basically read this book in one sitting and wouldn t shut up about it for months. People would say to me, Good morning. How are you today? And I d just start talking about atonement and solitary confinement and recidivism. Shaka s book reminds us of the great imperfections that remain in our nation, but his determination to move from community liability to asset reminds us that no life should be written off. We need this story. It isn t pretty, but it is beautiful. Baratunde Thurston, supervising producer, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, bestselling author of How To Be Black "Essential reading for anyone who believes in the deeply spiritual andtransformationalpower of redemption. Our nation must confront this conceptto reachour own promise as a country.No matter who you are or where you've come from, this book holdsstrong, inspiring lessons and shows that the difficult pathway to redemption can bear abundant fruit for many. In the end we are all, no matter our path, more powerful agents of service than we realize." U.S. Senator Cory Booker If you ve wondered what makes it possible for good people to do terrible things, and what a man can endure to reach redemption, then you must read this book. Senghor s story is told with brutal self-assessment and tender attention to what makes profound change in a person and also in our communities not only possible but imperative. In this unforgettable memoir, Shaka takes us from the streets of Detroit into solitary confinement in prison, and against all odds, home safely and successfully to a family and community that needs him. Piper Kerman, bestselling author of Orange is the New Black "More than the proverbial 'We Fall Down/We Get Up' story. It s a testament to the power of the mind, and the fact that none of us should ever be defined by our lowest point." Detroit Metro Times Delivered with a stark realism that is only occasionally relieved by humor and the bizarre characters [Senghor] encounters. -Herb Boyd, Amsterdam News Senghor's fearless self-reflection serves as a cautionary tale for the young and a guidebook for anyone seeking atonement. His lessons about owning your failures and taking accountability resonate in every walk of life, from the streets to the boardroom. Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments Writing My Wrongs is a gritty, no-holds-barred look inside the degrading world of American s prisons and the inspiring story of how one man overcame the biggest obstacle himself to reclaim his life. Shaka s painful journey from callous street thug to compassionate community activist is a roadmap for those who believe in the power of redemption. Maurice Ashley, American chess grandmaster, author of Chess for Success

From the Hardcover edition."

"Gritty, visceral...Senghor writes about the process of atonement and the possibility of redemption, and talks of his efforts to work for prison reforms that might turn a system designed to warehouse into one aimed at rehabilitation." -Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times" "An extraordinary, unforgettable book. "Writing My Wrongs "is a necessary reminder of the deep humanity, vulnerability and potential that lies within each one of us, including those we view as 'thugs' or 'criminals'. Shaka's story illustrates that if we muster the courage to love those who do not yet love themselves, a new world is possible." Michelle Alexander, professor of law, Ohio State University, bestselling author of "The New Jim Crow" Shaka Senghor's terrific and inspiring book affirms that we are all more than the worst thing we've ever done. This beautiful and compelling story of recovery and redemption offers all of us powerful truths and precious insights as we seek recovery from decades of over-incarceration and excessive punishment. Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, bestselling author of "Just Mercy " A profound story of neglect, violence, discovery, redemption and inspiration. Consistently touching and surprising, "Writing My Wrongs" is, ultimately, deeply hopeful. Prepare to have your preconceptions shattered. J.J. Abrams, director, writer, producer "Shaka Senghor is a once-in-a-generation leader, championing a cause that will define a generation: mass incarceration. Behind prison walls, "Writing My Wrongs "is already taking its place alongside the memoirs of Malcolm X and George Jackson as must-read literature. In the broader society, its publication will propel him into the ranks of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander powerful visionaries whose words are shaking the foundations of our nation's understanding of itself." Van Jones, CNN contributor, bestselling author of "Rebuild the Dream "and "The Green Collar Economy" "" I basically read this book in one sitting and wouldn t shut up about it for months. People would say to me, Good morning. How are you today? And I d just start talking about atonement and solitary confinement and recidivism. Shaka s book reminds us of the great imperfections that remain in our nation, but his determination to move from community liability to asset reminds us that no life should be written off. We need this story. It isn t pretty, but it is beautiful. Baratunde Thurston, supervising producer, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, bestselling author of "How To Be Black " """Essential reading for anyone who believes in the deeply spiritual andtransformationalpower of redemption. Our nation must confront this conceptto reachour own promise as a country.No matter who you are or where you've come from, this book holdsstrong, inspiring lessons and shows that the difficult pathway to redemption can bear abundant fruit for many. In the end we are all, no matter our path, more powerful agents of service than we realize."" " U.S. Senator Cory Booker "" If you ve wondered what makes it possible for good people to do terrible things, and what a man can endure to reach redemption, then you must read this book. Senghor s story is told with brutal self-assessment and tender attention to what makes profound change in a person and also in our communities not only possible but imperative. In this unforgettable memoir, Shaka takes us from the streets of Detroit into solitary confinement in prison, and against all odds, home safely and successfully to a family and community that needs him. Piper Kerman, bestselling author of "Orange is the New Black" "" Senghor's fearless self-reflection serves as a cautionary tale for the young and a guidebook for anyone seeking atonement. His lessons about owning your failures and taking accountability resonate in every walk of life, from the streets to the boardroom. Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments "" "Writing My Wrongs" is a gritty, no-holds-barred look inside the degrading world of American s prisons and the inspiring story of how one man overcame the biggest obstacle himself to reclaim his life. Shaka s painful journey from callous street thug to compassionate community activist is a roadmap for those who believe in the power of redemption. Maurice Ashley, American chess grandmaster, author of "Chess for Success""
"An extraordinary, unforgettable book. "Writing My Wrongs "is a necessary reminder of the deep humanity, vulnerability and potential that lies within each one of us, including those we view as 'thugs' or 'criminals'. Shaka's story illustrates that if we muster the courage to love those who do not yet love themselves, a new world is possible." Michelle Alexander, professor of law, Ohio State University, bestselling author of "The New Jim Crow" Shaka Senghor's terrific and inspiring book affirms that we are all more than the worst thing we've ever done. This beautiful and compelling story of recovery and redemption offers all of us powerful truths and precious insights as we seek recovery from decades of over-incarceration and excessive punishment. Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, bestselling author of "Just Mercy" "Shaka Senghor is a once-in-a-generation leader, championing a cause that will define a generation: mass incarceration. Behind prison walls, "Writing My Wrongs "is already taking its place alongside the memoirs of Malcolm X and George Jackson as must-read literature. In the broader society, its publication will propel him into the ranks of Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander powerful visionaries whose words are shaking the foundations of our nation's understanding of itself." Van Jones, CNN contributor, bestselling author of "Rebuild the Dream "and "The Green Collar Economy" "" I basically read this book in one sitting and wouldn t shut up about it for months. People would say to me, Good morning. How are you today? And I d just start talking about atonement and solitary confinement and recidivism. Shaka s book reminds us of the great imperfections that remain in our nation, but his determination to move from community liability to asset reminds us that no life should be written off. We need this story. It isn t pretty, but it is beautiful. Baratunde Thurston, supervising producer, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, bestselling author of "How To Be Black" "" If you ve wondered what makes it possible for good people to do terrible things, and what a man can endure to reach redemption, then you must read this book. Senghor s story is told with brutal self-assessment and tender attention to what makes profound change in a person and also in our communities not only possible but imperative. In this unforgettable memoir, Shaka takes us from the streets of Detroit into solitary confinement in prison, and against all odds, home safely and successfully to a family and community that needs him. Piper Kerman, bestselling author of "Orange is the New Black" "" Senghor's fearless self-reflection serves as a cautionary tale for the young and a guidebook for anyone seeking atonement. His lessons about owning your failures and taking accountability resonate in every walk of life, from the streets to the boardroom. Mellody Hobson, president, Ariel Investments "" "Writing My Wrongs" is a gritty, no-holds-barred look inside the degrading world of American s prisons and the inspiring story of how one man overcame the biggest obstacle himself to reclaim his life. Shaka s painful journey from callous street thug to compassionate community activist is a roadmap for those who believe in the power of redemption. Maurice Ashley, American chess grandmaster, author of "Chess for Success""



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Publisher Convergent Books
Publish date 01/31/2017
Pages 288
ISBN-13 9781101907313
ISBN-10 1101907312
Language English

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