Aqeela Sherrills, the youngest of 10 children, was raised in the Jordan Downs Housing Projects in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles, California. In 1989, Aqeela lost 13 friends to gang violence, catalyzing his role as a key player in organizing the historic 1992 “Peace Treaty” between the Crips and Bloods in Los Angeles. As a direct result of his effort, Los Angeles is experiencing a 40 year low in homicides and murders, removing the city from the list of the top 15 most violent cities. Aqeela has traveled nationally and internationally brokering ceasefires in some ten cities throughout the U.S. and has consulted with dignitaries in many countries including South Africa, Serbia and Northern Ireland on violence intervention/prevention strategies.
In January 2004, his oldest son Terrell was murdered while home on winter break. This experience inspired a shift in Aqeela’s approach and gave birth to The Reverence Project, a three-fold initiative that is working to shift the current social and philosophical underpinnings of a world culture rooted in violence, shame, guilt and fear into a more balanced worldview rooted in reverence, forgiveness, compassion and truth.
A spirit-centered activist, advocate and social entrepreneur, Aqeela serves on the board of L.A.U.R.A, a community-based organization aimed at creating strength out of tragedy in South Central Los Angeles. He volunteers his time with the Fair Sentencing for Youth Campaign and serves as the LA Chapter-lead for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice with Californians for Safety and Justice, a statewide initiative aimed at providing smart justice solutions to criminal justice reform. He also co-owns 3 Worlds Café and Loco’l—chef Roy Choi’s revolutionary fast food restaurants.
Aqeela is the subject of multiple documentaries on gang violence prevention/intervention and is currently developing The Reverence Wellness Salon, a comprehensive wellness center taking a holistic approach to support the healing journey of victims of violence in the Watts community in Los Angeles.