The Hamilton College C. Christine Johnson Voices of Color Lecture Series will host Yusef Salaam, one of “The Exonerated Five” wrongly accused and convicted in the Central Park jogger case in New York City three decades ago, in a Zoom webinar on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 6 p.m. The webinar is free and open to the public but registration is required.
The Central Park jogger case was a criminal case concerning the aggravated assault and rape of a white female jogger during a series of reported attacks in Manhattan’s Central Park on April 19, 1989. Five youth defendants — known collectively as “The Central Park Five” — were falsely convicted of assaulting the jogger and served out their sentences before all were exonerated following the confession of another inmate.
One of those boys, Yusef Salaam, was just 15 years old when his life was upended and changed forever.
Since his release, Salaam advocates and educates people on the issues of false confessions, police brutality and misconduct, press ethics and bias, race and law, and disparities in America’s criminal justice system. In 2013, documentarians Ken and Sarah Burns released the film The Central Park Five, which told this story 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 injustice against them. In 2016, Salaam received a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama.
The C. Christine Johnson Voices of Color Lecture Series was created to recognize Hamilton’s commitment to cultural diversity and sponsors a lecture by an influential leader of color each year. VCLS was established in recognition and in honor of C. Christine Johnson, past director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program, for her 30 years of helping Hamilton students of color.