Meet Gibran Tariq, author & CEO of a new and thriving Black-owned publishing company

Tariq, founder and CEO of Soul Fire Books.
Tariq, founder and CEO of Soul Fire Books.

NATIONWIDE ( — For most of his life, he was the guy most wannabee thugs wished they could be. Officially declared a “menace to society”, he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for his role as mastermind of a series of daring bank robberies in the 70’s. Two involved shootouts. One with the police. The other with a citizen in a bank parking lot where he narrowly missed being killed. While confined, he took part in an even more daring prison escape.

As a boy, he toyed with the alphabets like most kids his age played with marbles, and from the start, there appeared to be a household conspiracy to convert him into a writer. By the time he was ten, he possessed a private library fit for a scholar, a new typewriter, a big desk, and plenty of blank paper. By 11, he had mastered the dictionary, was a whiz at Scrabble, and was an honor roll student in school. At twelve, he had completed his first novel.

By his 13th birthday, he had discovered hustling and adopted “the streets” as his home. By 14, he was in reform school for assaulting a police officer.

While at Stonewall Jackson Training School, he was the first Black person deemed smart enough to work in the Print Shop where he became a prized reporter for the institutional newspaper. He served a year and a day, and with hardly any delays, he embarked on a personal crime spree.

At fifteen, he was tried as an adult and sentenced to prison although he was still a juvenile. At Polk Youth Center, he was the youngest convict there, but he rapidly evolved into Public Enemy Number One. He held the record for going to the “Hole” for rule violations such as fighting, extortion, and his all-time favorite, starting a riot.

While in the Youth Center, he acquired his high school diploma at 16, wrote his first play, turned militant, and when released at 19, went to New York to join the Black Panthers, but discovered heroin instead. Both the revolution and writing would have to wait as a drug habit left little room for anything else.

After serving ten years in the feds (1973-1983) for multiple bank robberies, he was framed by state authorities and he served another ten years (1983-1993) for a robbery he says he did not commit. Then he served another ten years in the feds (1997-2007) for being the alleged “king-pin” of a notorious heroin distribution ring.

In prison, he turned back to what he had turned his back on writing. He wrote every day for 10 years and was even placed in “the hole” for publishing his first book. The administration in the Atlanta pen said that publishing a book was tantamount to “running a business while confined”. He fought the case and after thirty days was let out of segregation, and this is what earned federal prisoners the right to publish a book without fear of reprisal.

Now, as CEO and Founder of SoulFire Books, he wants to help break your “literary” chains. “Free yourself,” he says. Visit his company’s official web site at

Be Sociable, Share!
    About Carma Henry 15006 Articles
    Carma Lynn Henry Westside Gazette Newspaper 545 N.W. 7th Terrace, Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33311 Office: (954) 525-1489 Fax: (954) 525-1861

    Be the first to comment

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.