NPR logo

Crips Founder Seeks 'Redemption' on Death Row

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4608950/4609437" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Crips Founder Seeks 'Redemption' on Death Row

Around the Nation

Crips Founder Seeks 'Redemption' on Death Row

Crips Founder Seeks 'Redemption' on Death Row

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4608950/4609437" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Stanely 'Tookie' Williams in San Quentin.

Stanely "Tookie" Williams in San Quentin. Tookie.com hide caption

toggle caption Tookie.com

Web Extra: Hear an Extended Interview with Williams

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4608950/4609403" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Stanley "Tookie" Williams has led a life so dramatic that Hollywood turned his autobiographical book into a 2004 made-for-TV movie: Redemption, starring Jamie Foxx. But Williams remains on Death Row, facing execution as early as this fall if appeals on his behalf fail.

Tookie, In His Own Words

From behind bars, Williams urges at-risk youth to reject his violent path of gangs and drugs:

Williams apologizes for creating the Crips street gang, and for his legacy of street violence

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4608950/4609401" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Anti-gang public service announcement

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4608950/4609397" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Another PSA urging youths to resist gangs

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/4608950/4609399" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Screen grab of a scene from 'Redemption' starring Jamie Foxx.

Screen grab of a scene from Redemption starring Jamie Foxx. 20th Century Fox hide caption

toggle caption 20th Century Fox

Born and raised on the mean streets of south Los Angeles, Williams and a friend co-founded the notorious Crips street gang when he was just 13. "We performed mayhem and aggression throughout the city. We terrorized everybody. We made it a living hell...," he says today. "We made a mistake — we morphed into a monster."

Now 51, Williams sits in San Quentin prison in northern California, convicted of the 1979 killing of a convenience store worker during a robbery. He was also found guilty of shooting and killing a motel owner, his wife and daughter — crimes he says he did not commit.

Still, in the books he's written about those days, he admits that as a Crip and a drug addict, he was unapproachable, unreachable, unteachable and incorrigible. "I was miseducated on manhood. I thought that manhood constituted violence, aggression, womanizing," he says.

Once behind bars, Williams says he found his own path to redemption. He re-educated himself, reading everything from the dictionary to law books. And he began writing children's books — nine so far — and speaking out against gangs. He's made public apologies for creating the Crips and adopting the gangster lifestyle.

Those efforts earned Williams a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, and may be a factor should Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decide to grant him clemency. Williams could also appeal his original conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Books Featured In This Story

Blue Rage, Black Redemption

A Memoir

by Stanley Tookie Williams

Paperback, 371 pages |

purchase

Buy Featured Book

Title
Blue Rage, Black Redemption
Subtitle
A Memoir
Author
Stanley Tookie Williams

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.