Who is Charleston White?
TEEN Texas gang leader Charleston White managed to reinvent himself after serving jail time for his juvenile transgressions.
His inspirational story and outspoken attitude have since made him a social media sensation who regularly shares videos with his followers.
Who is Charleston White?
Charleston White, 52,has become a well-known controversial online figure after sharing brutally honest stories of his past on YouTube and social media.
He recently came under fire due to his comments regarding George Floyd and the late rapper DMX's death.
Despite his chequered criminal history, White has managed to turn his life around, by becoming a motivational speaker – and is now "a pillar in his community as well as active in my church."
White is the founder and CEO of Helping Young People Excel (HYPE), an organization dedicated to educating teens and helping deter them from turning to crime.
The group have even worked directly with members of Fort Worth’s largest Hispanic gang.
He said: "My story gives hope to those who've lost it. It shows victims and their families that even the worst individuals can change their lives and make a difference in society."
The 52-year-old from Fort Worth thanks the "Texas system for saving my life," and is currently on the way to earning his Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from Texas Wesleyan University.
Now a father-of-two, he travels the country "sharing my knowledge, qualitative experience, and story of redemption in hopes of making a positive impact."
Why was Charleston White sent to jail?
At age 14, White and three friends had shoplifted athletic jackets from a Foot Locker store and a man who confronted them was shot dead in the parking lot.
"I was, for all intents and purposes, a murderer. I didn't pull the trigger, but I was responsible for the shooting death," White told the Texas Tribune.
He was one of the first juveniles in Tarrant county to be sentenced to murder under the Texas Determining Sentence law.
White was sent to the Texas Youth Council lockup, and was due to be moved onto an adult facility ahead of his 18th birthday – but "four juvenile correctional officers put their jobs on the line" to plead his case to the judge.
"I've always heard juvenile justice advocates and officials say, 'If I can just reach one kid then I've done my job'," White said. "I was that one kid. Job well done."
He was returned to the Giddings State School where he remained until a few months before his 21st birthday.
In 1998, he was released after serving seven years of his sentence and "has never been back to prison"
"When I got out at 21, from a mental aspect of things, my thinking, the process of my emotions was on a 14-year-old level – I didn’t have the natural progress needed for social skills," he explained.
"I didn’t have the experiences that a natural 14-year-old experiences. I didn’t go to high school; I didn’t graduate, so I didn’t have those experiences that you need in society to succeed."
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