For Ahkeem

About This Episode

Beginning one year before the fatal police shooting of a Black teenager in nearby Ferguson, Missouri, For Ahkeem is the coming-of-age story of Daje Shelton, a Black 17-year-old girl in North St. Louis. She fights for her future and navigates the marginalized neighborhoods, biased criminal justice policies and economic devastation that have set up many Black youth like her to fail.

After she is expelled from her public high school, a juvenile-court judge sends Daje to the court-supervised Innovative Concept Academy, an alternative high school that offers her one last chance to earn a diploma. The judge explains, “Either you make it with me or you don’t make it at all.”

While at the academy, Daje struggles with her classes, attends funerals of friends killed around her, falls in love with a boy named Antonio and manages a complicated relationship with her mother. As she fights for her future the nearby city of Ferguson erupts into flames, family members including Antonio are incarcerated, and Daje gives birth to a baby boy, Ahkeem. Through Daje’s intimate story, For Ahkeem illuminates challenges that many Black teenagers face in America today and witnesses the strength, resilience, and determination it takes to survive.