The Act of Forgiveness That Shaped Shaka Senghor

Season 7 Episode 707
CC | tv-14
Shaka Senghor served 19 years in prison for second-degree murder. For many of those years, he was angry and resentful, believing that he had done nothing wrong. Gradually though, as he began to read and write, Shaka began to do some soul-searching.

During this time, six years into his sentence, Shaka received a letter from a woman named Nancy, the godmother of the man Shaka had killed—a man named David. He recounts to Oprah how powerful Nancy's words were. "She started off telling me who David was," he says. "He had a 10-month-old son [and] he never got a chance to see his first birthday. He had a daughter who's struggling greatly."

Nancy wanted Shaka to understand the extent of the hurt and devastation he had caused her family. "But she went on to say, despite that, that she loved me," he says. "I didn't know what to do with that part. You know? And then she said she forgives me. Like, I just couldn't imagine how this woman could love me knowing that I had caused her and her family so much devastation."

Here, Shaka reveals to Oprah how those words of forgiveness sparked a realization within him that he was "redeemable," setting him on the path to transformation.