An Apostle of Black Fatherhood
October 1990By John C. Cort
An amazing story: A 42-year-old black Muslim in Roxbury, the Boston ghetto, got angry because his son was stabbed for no reason. He went looking for the local gang and the gang member who did it, intent on vengeance. "But when I found him," he said later, "I looked into his face and saw myself when I was a teen-ager, and my anger turned to pity."
His son recovered and Shakur Ali invited the gang, including the one who stabbed his son, to come and live in a two-floor apartment in a building he owned next to his own home. He became a father to nine teen-agers who, in his words, were "terrorizing the community."
The Boston Globe did a big feature. The copy editor put it neatly in the headline: "Shakur Ali looked at a gang and saw sons who needed a father, so he became one."
Actually, Ali was already a father -- 12 children by four different wives. Five of them lived with him, ages two to 15, without benefit of mother. But he still had time and energy to "father" nine more, and now, thanks to the Globe article and exposure on Boston television and radio stations, he has attracted enough financial support to quit his security job and start He's Not Heavy, He's My Brother, Inc.
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