Motivational speaker Yusef Shakur to deliver speech in EHS Building Monday night

Motivational speaker Yusef Shakur wasn’t always the positive role model he aims to be today.

Shakur, who used to be involved in a Detroit gang and served nine years in prison, will speak at Central Michigan University tonight in the Education and Human Services Building’s room 118.

Shakur, a former Jackson State Prison inmate, has since dedicated his life to positive change and educating youth about his wrongs in the past. The speech will begin at 7 p.m. and is free to attend.

Shakur transformed his life after his stint in prison, where he met his father for the first time behind bars. Shakur is now an author, business-owner and activist who hopes to make a positive impact in his former neighborhood and on youth throughout the nation.

Professor of sociology David Kinney helped to plan Shakur’s presentation at CMU and had the opportunity to meet him when he spoke at Oasis Alternative High School, 3350 S. Isabella Road, last year.

Kinney believes Shakur can deliver an inspiring message to CMU students by speaking about his past hardships and experiences.

“(Shakur) has been through a great deal of adversity and has overcome a lot of difficult situations in his life,” Kinney said. “Now, it’s all about positive social change for him and he tries to inspire young people by speaking about his experiences.”

Mount Pleasant resident Marsha Biggs, a former teacher at Oasis Alternative High School, has met Shakur multiple times and helped to coordinate his speech at the school last winter.

“When he spoke, he talked about his time on the streets of Detroit and his transformation in prison,” Biggs said. “He’s a changed person today.”

Biggs said she thought Shakur had an interesting method to delivering his speech. Rather than instructing young people what to do, Biggs said Shakur speaks about his past and lets the students make judgments for themselves.

“I think it was different than your average speech,” Biggs said. “He didn’t tell them what to do or not to do. He just spoke about his experiences and let the students ask questions.”

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