Events Calendar

Distinguished Speaker - Yusef Salaam

Location: Alumni Arena

Monday, February 24, 2020, 07:30pm
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Yusef SalaamYusef Salaam | Feb. 24 | Alumni Arena

Criminal Justice Advocate and Member of the Central Park Five



On April 19, 1989, a young woman was brutally raped and left for dead in New York City’s Central Park. Five boys—four black and one Latino—were tried and convicted of the crime in a frenzied case that rocked the city. They became known collectively as the Central Park Five.

Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after spending between seven and thirteen years of their lives behind bars. The unidentified DNA in the Central Park jogger case, unlinked to any of the five, had finally met its owner, a convicted murderer and serial rapist who confessed. The convictions of the boys, now men, were overturned and they were exonerated. One of those boys, Yusef Salaam, was just 15 years old when his life was upended and changed forever.

Since his release, Salaam has committed himself to advocating and educating people on the issues of false confessions, police brutality and misconduct, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in America’s criminal justice system. In 2013, Ken and Sarah Burns and David McMahon released the documentary “The Central Park Five,” which told of this travesty from the perspective of Salaam and his cohorts.

In 2014, the Central Park Five received a multi-million dollar settlement from the city of New York for its grievous injustice against them. Salaam was awarded an honorary doctorate that same year and received the President's Life Time Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama.

In 2018, he was appointed to the board of the Innocence Project. In May 2019, Netflix released the limited series titled “When They See Us” based on the true story of Salaam and the other members of the Central Park Five. The series was created and directed by Ava DuVernay; executive producers included Oprah Winfrey and Robert De Niro.


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