Using literature as a lifeline, Shaka Senghor escaped a cycle of prison and desperation. Now his story kindles hope in those who have little.

Why you should listen

At the age of 19, Shaka Senghor went to prison fuming with anger and despair. Senghor was a drug dealer in Detroit, and one night, he shot and killed a man who showed up on his doorstep. While serving his sentence for second-degree murder, Senghor discovered redemption and responsibility through literature -- starting with The Autobiography of Malcolm X -- and through his own writing.

Upon his release at the age of 38, Senghor reached out to young men following his same troubled path, and published Live in Peace as part of an outreach program bringing hope to kids in Detroit and across the Midwest. His activism attracted the attention of the MIT Media Lab, and as a Director’s Fellow, Senghor has collaborated on imagining creative solutions for the problems plaguing distressed communities. His memoir, Writing My Wrongs, was published in 2013.

Shaka Senghor’s TED talk

Shaka Senghor on the TED Blog

Live from TED

Misdeeds do not define you: Shaka Senghor at TED2014

March 21, 2014

Writer, teacher and MIT Media Fellow Shaka Senghor gives the last talk of Session 10: Passion at TED2014, and he starts with a literal bang: When he was 19, he shot and killed another man. At the time, he was a young drug dealer “with a quick temper and a semi-automatic pistol.” Speaking to us […]

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Live from TED

Passion: The speakers in session 10 of TED2014

March 20, 2014

Our passions are what drive us through our lives and our work. What unexpected places can they take us? In this session, seven speakers show the incredible range of answers. Below, the speakers who appeared in this session. Click on a speaker’s name to read a full recap of their talk. Mellody Hobson advocates for financial […]

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New to the TED2014 speaker lineup…

February 27, 2014

TED2014, “The Next Chapter,” is less than a month away, and four new speakers have been added to the program. Here, get to know just a little bit about them. First, Peggy Liu will join session 3, “Reshape,” to talk about how environmentalism is a must in China. But do not expect to hear words […]

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