By Naomi Bonman
When we hear of our young Black men and teenagers deterring in the wrong direction, we give them the wrong response by turning our heads and ignoring them. They need solid advice and a positive, but raw message from someone, preferably another Black male, who has been where they have been and has or is experiencing the consequence. This will showcase as an eye opener and wake up call for many.
In lieu of making this happen is through a media platform entitled, Gangster Chronicles. Gangster Chronicles is geared towards giving current and ex-convicts the ability to share their stories, put an end to mythologies by unveiling hidden stories and reach the youth through literature. The roster consists of men who were leaders of well-known gangs, such as the Vicelords and Black Mafia, and even a man who inspired a character on the popular HBO series “The Wire.”
Solomon “Chessmon” Montague was one of the core leaders of Chicago’s Vicelords street gang with the rank of a “Five Star Elite.” Now sentenced to life plus 30 years in federal prison, his main objective is to positively uplift the gang culture through his literature.
What was your life like before you got locked up?
My life before this long prison sentence was like a roller coaster ride. The highs and lows were very dramatic. I had rose to the top of gang life with a reputation that even I couldn’t believe! LOL!!
With the life style of being a gang chief, drug dealer and an all American criminal, the streets had created a monster that lived inside of my conscious. Everyday became a battle. I fought demons that tormented my soul when I slept. I had a gun planted in every room of my apartment (even in the kids room). I slept with a gun under my pillow.
When I was moving in the streets, I always had the feeling that imaginary enemies or police were out to kill me. My head stayed on a swivel and my mind was going a thousand miles per second! I was never big on using drugs or alcohol; however, I started smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol to slow down my mind. This went on for about a year before the feds got me.
What led you to a life of crime?
I believe the thrill and the challenge led me to a life of crime. When I was younger, I would steal from my mother and other family members, then I started stealing from stores. I loved to watch gangster movies and I always rooted for the bad guys. I would go outside and watch how everybody respected the criminals. They were treated like royalty! When I became a gang member, in my mind, I was already a seasoned criminal.
What have you learned about yourself since you’ve been in prison?
What I learned about myself in prison is that I don’t have to be a criminal or a gang chief to be respected! And that I’m a child of GOD and a servant of His will and work.
How long have you been writing and how many books have you written?
I started writing in 07, and I’ve written four novels.
Who are you books geared for and what do you want them to take out of them?
My books are geared towards the gang culture, their families, and people who interact with them. I want them to become conscious and aware of the evils of that lifestyle and to flip the tables and fight against the traps and pitfalls of gangs, drugs, and criminal activity.