Shaka Senghor Brings Life To Latin Community


Noa Rosenberg Having a Martin Luther King Day speaker is one of Latin’s most important traditions. Each year, the community gathers to hear someone’s story and learn together about how we can make the world a better place. Last year brought us Jacqueline Woodson, who shared her enlightening perspective with the school; however, this year’s speaker, Shaka Senghor, may be the most relevant and inspiring yet. Born in Detroit and incarcerated at the age of 19 for second-degree murder, Senghor spent nearly two decades in prison, with seven years in solitary confinement. Upon his release, he swore to give back to the world at large: fighting mass incarceration, helping at-risk youth, and–most importantly–telling his story. As if being a 2014 TED Prize finalist, the winner of both the 2015 Manchester University Innovator of the Year Award and the 2012 Black Male Engagement Leadership Award, and being featured in the new and exceedingly striking movie 13th is not enough, Oprah Winfrey loves him, stating that “[their] conversation [for Super Soul Sunday] was one of the best [she’s] ever had–not just in [her] career, but in [her] life.” Ms. Maajid, who helps to coordinate MLK Day events, explained that when looking for a speaker this year, she thought about who would fit with LIFE’s theme of ethics in the criminal justice system. “Shaka just stood out to me,” she said, “I feel like he speaks to the heart of that. He’s been in the criminal justice system, but he’s also…worked hard to shed light on mass incarceration, he’s worked hard with youth and others to keep them out of jail or, if they’re in jail, to keep them humane.” When addressing Senghor’s specific relevance this year, Ms. Maajid said, “The U.S. and all these other people have shed a light on this issue of mass incarceration, and so I think being able to have someone who’s been in those shoes and is working hard to keep others out is very relevant.” And what makes him different from speakers of past years? Ms. Maajid answered, “We always try to bring it back to social justice and MLK and activism and he is very actively doing those things and I think that’s important.” For more information, check out Shaka’s website here:]]>