The Evolved Man of the Week: Theo Shaw

Welcome to the Evolving Man Project’s ‘Evolved Man of the Week’ profiles. Each week we will highlight an individual that embodies what it means to be an evolved man, famous and non-famous men alike. The world needs to know their stories and deeds. This week’s honor goes to the Louisiana native, University of Washington graduate, and new attorney; Theo Shaw.

He was a Louisiana man whose life was almost thrown away by the criminal justice system when he and five other young black teen boys got overcharged in a case that came to be known as the “Jena 6” is now officially a lawyer.

Theo Shaw was sworn into the bar of the District of Columbia recently according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Bernette Johnson, chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, administered the oath inside the courthouse as friends and supporters looked on. He clerked for her as a law student.

Mr. Shaw’s journey has taken him from the national spotlight to jail, and to now the hall of justice. He stayed focus throughout the years there was community college, then university, then he worked with the Innocence Project New Orleans and the Southern Poverty Law Center, then law school in Seattle and a clerkship with Louisiana Chief Justice Bernette Johnson. Moreover, then passing the bar in the District of Columbia and became a lawyer. Here is Theo Shaw, in his own words regarding the criminal justice system:

I think when you’ve been as close to the system as I’ve been, as far as being in jail, and being in jail all day talking with people, being there when people are crying — grown men, kids … I think it’s hard not to care when you’ve been as close as I’ve been,”

Columnist Jarvis DeBerry sums up Theo’s remarkable story of redemption and second chance quite elegantly.

But as much as I shudder at the thought of him being in prison, I shudder almost as much at the thought of him spending his life assembling boxes for products unknown. Not because there’s anything wrong with such work but because it’s not the work Shaw was called to do.

He was working with no sense of purpose back then. His purpose couldn’t be clearer now.”

We at the Evolving Man Project wish, Theo Shaw all the best as he pursues his career in law and continues his fight to give other young black men stuck in the system of mass incarceration their second chance. Today we honor Theo Shaw as our Evolved Man of the Week.




Theo Shaw

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