Documentary Tells Story Of Detroit Ex-Con Turned Community Activist

DETROIT (WWJ) – Imagine meeting your father for the first time, while you’re both locked up in prison. It happened to a Detroit man and now, his story is the subject of a documentary.

The Urban Network Cyber Cafe, located at 5740 Grand River, is hosting a special screening Wednesday night of “Detroit’s Native Son: From Z8ne Street Thug to Prison to Community Leader,” which tells the story of Yusef Shakur.

“I could have come home become bitter, because I went to prison for a crime I didn’t do, assault with intent to rob unarmed, it was a gang-related crime, I was a member of a gang. However, looking at the personal committment, the personal responsibility of being a predator in my community, to wanting to come home to be a protector, you know, because my mother and my kids, and to understand what it means to be a man and be a father,” Shakur told WWJ’s Vickie Thomas.

Shakur spent nine years in prison and it was during that time that he met his father.

“I say all the time that prison didn’t rehabilitate me, it was my father and through self-education, but prison did provide me with the space,” he said.

Shakur said he used his time behind bars to become educated and spiritual. While locked up, Shakur earned a college degree and became an author. He said he earned a new lease on life, turning that opportunity into a chance to become a respected community organizer and activist.

Shakur said he hopes his story serves as an example of redemption, hope and transformation from deep within the belly of Detroit.

“Detroit is like a dried up lake and when the water left, we turned on each other. When the love comes back, we begin to help each other and get out of this situation. You have to make a personal committment, and again, it’s not going to come from Lansing, it’s not going to come from Washington D.C. It’s going to come from us because we know what’s going on in our community,” he said.

For more information, visit

More from Vickie Thomas

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