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Writing My Wrongs

Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison

By Shaka Senghor
12-minute read
Audio available
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor

Writing My Wrongs (2013) tells the story of a man growing up during Detroit’s 1980s crack epidemic. These blinks take you on a journey from his happy childhood to a life of drugs, gangs, murder and a 19-year prison sentence – and how he came to find hope and redemption through writing.

  • Activists looking to learn more about life in American prisons
  • Students of sociology seeking to complement their studies with a personal story
  • Readers with family members in the prison system

Shaka Senghor is a mentor, writer and TED speaker who spent 19 years in prison for murder. He currently works as the Director of Strategy and Innovation with #cut50, an initiative to reduce the US prison population by half by the year 2025.

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Writing My Wrongs

Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison

By Shaka Senghor
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor
Synopsis

Writing My Wrongs (2013) tells the story of a man growing up during Detroit’s 1980s crack epidemic. These blinks take you on a journey from his happy childhood to a life of drugs, gangs, murder and a 19-year prison sentence – and how he came to find hope and redemption through writing.

Key idea 1 of 7

Shaka Senghor’s childhood took an unexpected turn when his parents’ divorce scarred him emotionally.

Our lives can often take unpredictable twists and turns, leaving us in places far from where we thought we’d end up, or situations we’d never dreamed of. The author, Shaka Senghor, experienced one such twist at a young age, and it had a telling influence on the rest of his life.

As a child in 1980s Detroit, Shaka grew up in a warm, loving environment with a big family. Shaka’s parents would often host family get-togethers, which would come alive with singing, eating and dancing.

During the holidays, the family would come together to hang Christmas decorations, and Shaka recalls with particular fondness how his father would give him and his three sisters money to go to the local ice skating rink.

Shaka had a promising future ahead of him. He remembers how, when his mother asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d proudly say that he wanted to become a doctor. This way, Shaka said, he could give lollipops to kids getting their shots, and help sick people to get better.

But things took an unexpected turn for the worse when his parents’ marriage ran into trouble. Shaka’s parents first split up when he was eleven, and it devastated him. The close-knit family life he’d grown to depend on had been taken away from him.

After a year of separation, Shaka’s parents got back together again, much to his delight; unfortunately, this only lasted for a few months. Shaka’s parents separated again, and this time, Shaka was told that he had to move to another part of Detroit with his father. Feeling confused and rejected, Shaka blamed the situation on himself. What had he done to make his mother want to get rid of him?

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