Yusef Salaam to Visit Alabama Law

Yusef Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Five, formerly known as the Central Park Five, will participate in a lunch discussion at noon on Monday, January 27 in the Bedsole Moot Court Room. Judge John H. England, Jr. (’74) will moderate the discussion.

On April 19, 1989, a young woman was 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.

Yusef Salaam standing in front of a building

Yusef Salaam

Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after spending between seven and 13 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 been committed 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, documentarians Ken and Sarah Burns released the documentary “The Central Park Five,” which told the event from the perspective of Salaam and his cohorts.

In 2014, The Central Park Five received a multimillion-dollar settlement from the city of New York. Salaam was awarded an honorary doctorate that same year and received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from then-President Barack Obama.

He was appointed to the board of the Innocence Project in 2018. He released a Netflix feature limited series called “When They See Us” based on the true story of the Central Park Five with Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and Robert De Niro in May 2019.

In addition to the discussion, Salaam will deliver the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lecture at 7:30 p.m. Monday, January 27 in the Ferguson Center Ballroom. The event is free and open to the public. After the lecture, there will be a signing of his book, “Words of a Man: my right to be,” which can be purchased at the Supply Store.

RSVP is required. Space is limited for this Law School event. Please register here.