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Convicted in the Womb

Convicted in the Womb
Author: Carl Upchurch
ISBN 13: 9780553375206
ISBN 10: 553375202
Edition: Reprint
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 1997-08-04
Format: Paperback
Pages: 256
List Price: $17.00

Once Carl Upchurch was an elementary school dropout fighting for survival on the streets of South Philadelphia, a gang member wedded to a life of violence, a bank robber facing a future in federal penitentiaries.  Now he is a respected community organizer and one of the most compelling and visionary leaders of the civil rights movement.  Catapulted into the national spotlight following his organization of a summit that brought together the country's most notorious gangs.  Carl Upchurch has found himself in direct conflict with other African American civil right leaders.  This is his scathing critique of t he established civil rights movement and his bold manifesto for solving the critical problems facing today's urban American.  And this is his own unforgettable story-reality of urban crime gang warfare, and racial injustice from one who knows firsthand what it's like to be Convicted in the Womb

Publishers Weekly

Upchurch tells his up-from-prison story well and with conviction. He calls his childhood "niggerization," describing the Philadelphia ghetto deprivations and depredations that turned him into a pre-teen criminal. Later he was politicized by Martin Luther King's assassination, but he reverted to criminality and became a violent prisoner. In prison, he discovered Shakespeare (by accident), then James Baldwin, Dostoyevski, Twain and other writers. Thus began what Upchurch terms "deniggerization," fighting his self-hatred and despair. After 10 years in prison, he was set free at 31. He pursued a college degree, married and, in 1992, founded the Council for Urban Peace and Justice (based in Columbus, Ohio) to work for gang truces and other ways of bringing progress to inner cities. He describes the 1993 Kansas City gang summit he organized as bringing hope, but it is still unclear what lasting effects it had. Upchurch concludes his book with proposals for "antiniggerization," challenging African Americans to take personal responsibility, proposing that they use boycotts to shape society and urging black leaders (he's suspicious of Jesse Jackson, hopeful about Kweisi Mfume) to challenge both their followers and the powers that support "American apartheid." (Sept.)