Today, I hope you’ll join me in sending beloved #ThankYouThursday love and appreciation to Shaka Senghor for being a beacon of compassion, creativity and demonstrating the redemptive power of what is possible when we choose to not define ourselves by our worst deeds.

I first met Shaka, a Detroit-native, about a decade ago when he was awarded a BMe Leadership Award, with a batch of other brothers from around the country who exemplified what it looked like to be assets in their communities. Shaka’s story has been widely chronicled from on the set with Oprah Winfrey, the TED Talk stage and on the pages of his NY Times best-selling book, Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in and American Prison.

We’re saturating Shaka with #ThankYouThursday love this week for his latest creative contribution, the forthcoming book Letters to the Sons of Society: A Father’s Invitation to Love, Honesty, and Freedom, which is a compassionate curation of loving, learning and leading letters to his sons Sekou and Jay. “I believe that letters are one of the most intimate forms of communication. They give us an insight into the most frightening, uncertain places and can serve as an introduction to what it means to be passionate, to love, to dream, to settle differences,” Shaka shares in his book. Letters to the Sons of Society invites us to share Shaka’s vivid and vulnerable reflections about race, redemption, addiction, love, forgiveness and more.

It is my prayer that Shaka’s book ignites a movement of love letters between fathers and sons when it is released in January 2022. You can preorder your copy of his book here. 

We’re also sending #ThankYouThursday love to Feona Sharhran Huff, who invited me to contribute to an exciting publishing project that she created for her son, Timothy. 18: Now That You’re an Adult, Here’s What You Need to Know is an anthology of essays from 18 African American men with insights, advice and reflections for Timothy, who turned 18 in August and is now a freshman at Old Dominion University pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering.

I am so honored to be one of the 18 Black men to contribute to 18 (which is currently still in production) with my essay entitled “Always Be Adulting.” The essay also provided me with the opportunity to glean some wisdom from my 19-year-old twin sons, Cameron and Caleb, to provide some peer-to-peer mission fuel for Timothy.

Caleb advised Timothy that, “Becoming an 18-year-old comes with a lot of new responsibilities and opportunities. You can go out and try to please everyone else’s needs around you but if you don’t take care of your physical and mental health it’s not worth it at the end of the day.”

Cameron shared, “surround yourself with good people even if that means spending less time around the people you may already hand out with. It’s all about objectives and goals because once you complete on objective that pushes you closer to your goal and motivates you more to complete the next task pushing even closer to your goal.”

As a father it’s heartening to know that, even as our sons navigate their own circuitous adulting journeys, they have lessons and blessings that can light a pathway for others – parents and peers, alike.