Tony McQueen is from High Point.
“I grew up in a life of crime,” he explained. “It wasn’t by force. It was by choice.”
He grew up with both parents in the house. He went to High Point Central for a bit, but somewhere along the way, he took a wrong turn.
“Hustling, scamming, stolen cars. Whatever it took just to make a few dollars. I worked 9 to 5s. I hustled multiple ways that a hustler does. Of course, it landed me in a bad situation. And I got incarcerated.”
He spent 12 years in federal prison for kidnapping, armed robbery and drugs. In his words, he was a gangster.
“Whenever I first put myself in that situation, I knew I had to start creating my future before I got out,” he told FOX8.
He turned his stumbling block into a stepping stone.
“Once I realized I had to de-educate myself from that street stuff and re-educate myself, that opened a whole other world,” he said.
He read. He studied. And he walked out of prison with a degree.
“I took up trades. I’m a quality control tech, going green consultant, construction safety manager.”
And he’s an author. Tony has written several books in a genre he’s coined “Urban Organized Crime Reality Lit novels” for his publishing company, Rather Unique Publications.
“They are very relatable stories to people in these environments in the inner cities,” he explained.
His goal is to promote literacy and open doors for other aspiring writers who may be on the fence between choosing the wrong or right path.
“I think creating product and giving at-risk youth a better chance and another outlet to translate that negative energy into positive energy. They’ll have something to share with their loved ones and their family, and have it be a way to help build generational wealth as well.”
He says early access to those outlets – whatever they may be – is one way to stop the violence that’s plagued the Triad. He uses his own story to try to reach those guys.
“I just try to help them understand and comprehend whatever energy you put out in the universe, you’re going to get back. If you call yourself a gangster, you’re going to get what a gangster gets,” Tony said.
He believes all is not lost.
“I have hope. I definitely have hope. I don’t mind extending my hand in unity to any of those guys, period. No matter where they’re from, their race, color, creed or whatever.”
If you’d like to learn more about Tony and his books, check out his website.