by TheArthur Duncan II, Esquire
Book Review by Kam Williams
“From hustling crack on a corner to practicing law in a courtroom… this is my story! I am living proof that despite your past, your dreams can still come true…
My story begins as I escape the violence of the Crips and Bloods street gangs in South Central LA and the abuse of a cocaine-addicted stepfather, only to go back to Buffalo, New York and perpetuate both ills by becoming a drug dealer myself. Ironically, I became a part of what victimized my family and me in Los Angeles…
I wound up in prison and had to put my life back together. While incarcerated, I found the God in me that I had long buried. After 3 years, I was released back into society and tempted by my old lifestyle, but… I succeeded.”
— Excerpted from the Book jacket
Probably the most popular genre of non-fiction being written by black folks nowadays is the overcoming-the-odds autobiography. I mostly pass politely when asked to review these titles because, hey, just about everybody has faced their share of adversity. However, I made an exception for TheArthur Duncan’s memoir, “Felon-Attorney.” This opus is special, given how low he sank before bottoming out, and how high he has risen since turning his life around.
The brother’s story starts in Los Angeles, where he was born in 1969, though he was raised in Buffalo, New York by his maternal grandparents, Mary Jane and the Reverend James Smith. After graduating from the 8th grade, TheArthur went back to L.A. to spend his summer vacation with his mother.
However, he decided to stay, which on the surface seemed to make sense since both his parents resided there. However, in the process, he had to leave behind in Buffalo his grandparents, friends and a tight-knit community. And, unfortunately, he would have a tough time making the adjustment to the heart of the ‘hood
Of course, it didn’t help that TheArthur didn’t live with his dad but with his drug addicted step-father. In the absence of a solid male role model to
emulate, he ended up dropping out of school to pursue a trio of dubious pipe dreams: pro basketball, rap music and drug dealing, which eventually landed him in prison.
TheArthur was born again behind bars, where he began to turn his life around. He has made the most of that second chance, not only graduating from college, but law school to boot. He’s also married the love of his life, Latisha, and the two are raising their five children back in Buffalo. Furthermore, he currently serves as a Deacon at First Calvary Missionary Baptist Church where he mentors at-risk kids and counsels married couples in crisis.
In Felon-Attorney, TheArthur recounts in very compelling fashion how he lifted himself from the societal scrap heap to morph into a pillar of the community. An uplifting, modern parable about a real-life Prodigal Son proving that anything is possible with faith in the Lord.
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