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 (Convergent Books) is the story of what came next. During his nineteen-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 thirty-eight, Senghor became an activist and mentor to young men and women facing circumstances like his. Shaka’s an unforgettable story, one which reminds us that our worst deeds don’t define us and which serves as a compelling witness to our country’s need for rethinking its approach to crime, prison, and the men and women sent there.
The new Writing My Wrongs Curriculum Guide was developed by Dr. Ebony Roberts and provides strategies to bring the book into the high school classroom. This guide, which also includes connections to the Common Core State Standards, features a thorough curriculum framework, activities for students before, during, and after reading the book, and takes you chapter by chapter through the themes (such as childhood innocence and prisons as punishment) that are central to Shaka’s story with suggested exercises and suggested supplementary resources for each.
Click here to read about the use of Writing My Wrongs in a community Common Reading program.