The Transformation of an Ex-Offender

by Roosevelt ("Shahid") Williamson


My name is Roosevelt ("Shahid") Williamson and I have been just released from Attica Prison (Spring, 1989), one of the 7 New York State penal institutions where I have been confined since 1975. I was born June 10, 1951 the first of 7 boys and 6 sisters and lived in rural Georgia, one of the thousands of black sharecroppers still picking cotton, cutting wood and drawing water.

My early experiences included going to segregated schools, experiencing racism, and man's injustice towards man - the mob lynchings of Blacks, the racist raping of Black Women; the Slave Plantations, being poor, deprived, undereducated, a poisonous diet, the chain gang, listening to gospel music, going to church on Sundays, etc.

When I was 13 years of age, we headed for New Jersey. Up North, was just like Down South. It was a struggle all over again. Only this time, I was exposed to things I had never experienced in Georgia. Like gangs, drugs, promiscuous sexual activity, addictions and welfare. I was in the 6th Grade in Georgia and was put back to the 4th Grade in New Jersey because I came from .the South. I never understood this.

To make a long story short, I got into serious trouble in New Jersey, dropped out of school, began fighting and using drugs and participated in robbery, muggings and burglary and ended up in prison with a 10-20 year sentence which came as a consequence of my attempting to be my own counsel in court instead of accepting the plea bargain that the court attorney suggested.

It was clear that I was going no where; so I began searching, looking desperately for an answer - and where did I find it? In The Tree of Life Book Store of Harlem, directed by Kanya Vashon McGhee, its founder. I had written Brother Kanya for books way back in 1975 while I was serving the 10-20 year sentence for rape and burglary. Although I was innocent of the rape charge, I was convicted just the same!

The accusing woman clearly lied on me. It is true that I had stolen her jewelery, her TV and had taken her money. She said to me as I was leaving her apartment that if I didn't return these items, she would tell the police that I had raped her! Truly, I didn't believe that she would do that but when I got arrested, I was charged with robbery and RAPE!

I went through pure HELL in prison: experiencing persecution, physical brutality, tension, frustration, etc., culminating in being put in solitary confinement in a room 6 by 8 feet with no windows, naked on the floor, for 13 months for refusing to shave my beard! During this period my skin turned a sickly yellow from the lack of Sunlight.

Thank God I had a book that Kanya had sent me: "The Secret of Regeneration" by Hilton Hotema, which was so interesting and informative that when the guards opened the door to let me out, I requested that they come back the following month because I was busy meditating!

In my search for Truth, I developed inner strength and a clearer vision as to why people behave the way they do. A whole new world opened up before me, and I felt really good for the first time in my life! It struck me that the reason why I couldn't learn in school, was because I wasn't being taught the Truth, and so I developed a hatred against westernized academia, and all the schools I had attended.

The books from The Tree of Life Bookstore taught me so much about my Self, about fasting, meditation, natural foods, yogic disciplines, the causes of disease, metaphysics, herbology, astrology, comparative religions, peace, causes of wars, vegetarianism, fruitarianism, and truly educational systems for our youth and elders.

The books also taught me sexual discipline, the psychology of people and their inner nature, and how to achieve universal world harmony. The Tree of Life is sorely needed in this world of many troubles, problems and crises that we're facing today. Our schools, homes, churches, synagogues, mosques, universities, prisons, hospitals, political institutions, the infra-structure and super-structure of society all desperately need the TREE OF LIFE!!

The most interesting books in the world existed within the Tree of Life Bookstore!! These books and their radiant, inspiring teachings, instruct us about proper dietary laws, correct living, world peace, the genius of timeless philosophies, and how to identify with and respect and love all mankind, regardless of race, colour, creed, or religion.

With the Tree Of Life around, I would have no need to commit crimes, use drugs or spread hatred. Many prisoners would learn a great deal from the Tree of Life if they were exposed to its teachings! I am living proof of this! Through the Tree Of Life, I have truly reformed myself, and I just want to share this precious information with all of you. I am a ciitizen of the Universe today seeking only to perform righteous deeds towards Humanity.

The great Karmic Law teaches me well!! You reap what you sow!! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! The prison's punishment taught me nothing. I only learned from the books in THE TREE OF LIFE and from the Divine within myself!


Peace and Love to you all. Towards the New Age!


Roosevelt ("Shahid") Williamson, June, 1989




Sometimes I will find in my message box, in fact more often than I can put up on the boards, communications that should be on billboards throughout the world. This is ONE :


From : BERNHARD DOHRMANN,74431,2602- I.B.I. Founder - Teacher




Section: IBI News - Today [1]; Forum: Income Builders+

Date: Wednesday, March 15, 1995, 1:01:23 pm


FROM: The Tree of Life (Kanya Vashon McGhee, #75734,43)

1701 M. L. King Drive SW * Atlanta, GA 30314-2227

Phone/Fax: (404) 753-4455


SUBJECT: "Jack Sprat" - A BILLION $$$$ WOW! ! !


Dear Berny,


One of the literary devices used to allegorically describe difficult-to-convey messages was the myth-fairy tale. In this connection I will use the story of: Jack Sprat and his wife


Jack Sprat could eat no fat;

His wife could eat no lean.

And so between them both you see,

They licked the platter clean!


In this instance"Jack Sprat" could be understood to stand for European-Americans while "his wife" could stand for African-Americans.


"Jack" would be seen as "left-brained", intellectual, technical, business minded, rational and politically conservative while "his wife" would be seen as "Right-brained" emotional, musical, politically liberal and spiritual.


We observed that the public schools are essentially run by and for "Jack" and hence unattractive to "his wife". What we at The Tree of Life Bookstore did was to bring the books and classes (The Fat) that "his wife" loved and in the process, "WE LICKED THE PLATTER CLEAN"!

This simple WOW! is literally worth BILLIONS OF $$$$.


The mission of The Tree of Life is to provide a new approach to resolving the challenges of inner city school dropouts, drug abuse, crime, violence, inmate rehabilitation and racial disparity. Our approach is through the recognition that The Oneness of Humanity does not preclude diversity. Through experimentation we discovered the material that engaged the true interest and hunger of our clientele to investigate the secrets of the "Inner Being".


"Fat" and "Lean" together, WE SHALL OVERCOME!


For additional information, Phone/FAX: (404) 753-5700

Tree of Life Books & Educational Center Home Page