Convicted In The Womb

( 4 )

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is not another sad personal litany of crime, drugs, violence and misery in the 'hood.'  This is an inspiring personal litany of human renewal and accomplishment.  Upchurch gives us hope that we can change society."
-- Dr. Earl Ofari Hutchinson author of The Assassination of the Black Male Image

" Convicted in the Womb by Carl Upchurch was a painful book for me to read, but I know what he says is fact for too many America's children.  It should be read by every individual who has ever doubted the value and importance of early childhood education, cares about children and the future of our society."
-- Dr. Joycelyn Elders, Arkansas Children's Hospital

"A provocative memoir of life as an enemy of society--Upchurch has become a thinker and social critic well worth paying attention to."
--Kirkus Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's 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.)
Library Journal
In this account of his tough childhood, the founder and director of the Council for Urban Peace and Justice reveals his encounters with violence, gangs, and reform schools and how by educating himself he finally escaped from that life. (LJ 9/1/96)
Kirkus Reviews
A provocative memoir of life as an enemy of society.

Born in 1950, Upchurch freely admits that he has been a bad man for much of the last half century: a robber, a thief, prone to violence, and quick with a lie. He was educated in his bad ways by the mean streets of South Philadelphia; "I was niggerized by my environment," Upchurch writes, "governed by a careless, heartless ruthlessness fostered by a pervasive sense of inferiority." Stints in reform schools followed his earliest forays in criminality, and there Upchurch found that the "cumulative caring" of those assigned to guard him took the place of family love. That caring was still not enough to set him straight, and as a young adult Upchurch drifted, committing crimes petty and major, eventually winding up in a federal prison in Michigan. There, in a narrow cell, he discovered the works of William Shakespeare—an earlier occupant had used a copy of the sonnets to prop up a crooked table—and other writers, and he educated himself in a program of self-improvement that, while not likely to earn Upchurch a spot on William Bennett's list of culture heroes, could well serve as an inspirational model for others seeking a way out. His narrative is sometimes marred by self-righteous passages, but Upchurch, now a community activist, has much of value to say about the way American society marginalizes its ethnic minorities, forcing many of its citizens to endure hellish lives. For all that, he is quick to accept ultimate responsibility for his actions. "I could choose to wallow in niggerhood—shooting drugs, robbing people, committing murder, going to jail, disrespecting people—or I could choose to rediscover my humanity and work against being a nigger for the rest of my life," he writes. "I chose the latter."

In doing so, Upchurch has become a thinker and social critic well worth paying attention to.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553375206
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 236
  • Sales rank: 595,140
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 8.21 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Customer Reviews

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( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2010

    Compelling

    A disturbing book to read. I was impressed by the variety of persons who impacted Carl for good. Male, female, Black, White, old and young-but each invested something beyond what was expected, communicated respect, love, concern, hope. Love does cover a multitude of sins.

    Hardened, imprisoned--he wept reading Les Miserables and later counted the Society of Friends as his "spiritual roots." One wonders how many of the urban gifted like him are in prison today.a change is needed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2004

    elevated from the bottom

    the belly of a senseless beast gave birth to another rising star. malcolm x, charles dutton and now carl upchurh. a brilliant display of character,courage and true divine hope. once looked upon as being so low by society. and now becoming elevated, soaring with wings of a mighty angel. a true display of being elevated from the bottom.....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2004

    More than environment!

    Books like this one should be required reading in all schools and business organizations. It proves that we are not victims of our environment, but of our own minds and our own self depricating limitations. Once deciding to change, no force on earth can alter one's choice. Even with that, we are far more than the experiences we encounter. This man, who recently just died, is an example for all of us and most certainly a role model for some of us.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

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