“I fully support the efforts of your initiative which has brought great recognition and pride to our community. From your personal experience you have given hope to individuals who may otherwise feel their situation is hopeless.” Congressman John Conyers, 2015
Yusef Bunchy Shakur is well versed in the language and syntax of Black Detroit as a father, author, and educator. As a native of Black Detroit, he grew up navigating the harsh realities of being raised by a single mother who was physically and socially abused, which is connected to Black Suffering. As a result, he was co-parented by the streets and by the age 13, he co-found the notorious Z8ne street organization (gang). Abuse, hurt, poverty, gangs, drugs, social, and economic neglect was a recipe to be criminalized at an early age. At age 19, he was sentenced to 5-to-15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.
Yusef’s transformation began when he met his father for the first time in prison. The father that abandoned his mother and him, had deconstructed himself from a predator and reconstructed himself into a protector by embracing the values and principles of the revolutionary Black Radical Tradition during a 5-year stint in solitary confinement, e.g., the Soul-Breaker. He spent time writing Yusef letters sharing his lessons of redemption before they would serve time together in a maximum-security prison. This re-enforced the many lessons of redemption and transformation that he was sharing with his son. From the relationship they developed, he was equipped with the tools to heal, transform, and also redeem himself from a predator into a protector by embracing the values and principles of the revolutionary Black Radical Tradition. He overstands his story as part of a larger narrative that is tied to decades of Black oppression/suffering and systemic inequities that intersects race, class, gender, environmental, and sexual identity amongst Black Bodies in the quest for Black liberation.
Yusef epitomizes transformation and redemption as a Black organic intellectual, institution builder, liberator writer, and unorthodox leader. He has demonstrated his commitment to the revolutionary principles of social justice as an activist and organizer to enhance the lives of Black Bodies and other oppressed people through
his works of “Restoring The Neighbor Back To The ‘Hood” as a leader in the national organization, Community Movement Builders. On the block he grew up on, he has organized an annual backpack giveaway festival since 2006, and for seven and half years he worked his ass off to transform an abandon house into a community-neighborhood, e.g., the Mama Akua Community House.
In 2019, he was promoted to the position of Deputy Director of Strategy and Innovation at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity & Inclusion. In 2019, he also earned his MSW degree from the University of Michigan School of Social Work and is currently working towards obtaining his PhD at Union Institute and University majoring in Public Policy and Social Change. He has been featured in many newspaper articles, TV interviews, and radio shows and has spoken across the country at a wide range of institutions talking about transformation, redemption, and neighborhood organizing efforts. He has also received numerous awards and received the Carol Goss Leadership and Michigan Chronicle Men of Excellence Awards in 2019.