CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Dr. Yusef Salaam, one of the Exonerated Five, spent nearly seven years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
He’ll be speaking Friday at an event in Akron.
Salaam and four other then-juveniles were convicted of raping and beating a white female jogger in Central Park in 1989.
On Dec. 19, 2002, on the recommendation of the Manhattan District Attorney, the convictions of Salaam and the other teens were overturned. The men are now known as the Exonerated Five.
The revelation of who committed the crime came through a confession from Matias Reyes, a serial rapist and murderer who was already in prison. DNA evidence linked Reyes to the 1989 Central Park attack.
What Salaam and the other boys experienced from their arrests to interrogations and legal battles are documented in the Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” by filmmaker Ava DuVernay.
Dreams Academy, an organization the provides education and mentorship opportunities to African-American boys, invited Dr. Salaam to Northeast Ohio. He’s speaking Friday at noon at the COJ Event Center at 610 W. Exchange Street in Akron.
“He’s going to tell the story. Talk about redemption, being able to come through that situation and really encourage the students. We have about 250 to 300 students that are coming from all over Ohio to see him,” said Brandon Scarborough, executive director of Dreams Academy.
Dr. Salaam is a public speaker, published author and received a presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama.
Dr. Salaam travels the world educating others about the disenfranchisement of economically disadvantaged people and its impact on families and communities. His conversations focus on issues of race, class, the criminal justice system, legal protections for juveniles and fundamental human rights.
The public is invited to Friday’s event. Tickets range from $25 to $110 and can be purchased at www.dreamsacademyakron.org.