Criminal justice advocate Yusef Salaam to speak at UB on Feb. 24

Salaam is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Keynote Speaker in the 2019-2020 Distinguished Speakers Series lineup

Release Date: February 11, 2020

Yusef Salaam head shot.

Yusef Salaam 

BUFFALO, N.Y. – In 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 collectively known 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, was finally attributed to a convicted murderer and rapist who confessed. The convictions of the boys, now men, were overturned and they were exonerated. One of these 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 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 multimillion-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 Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama.

The event will take place Monday, Feb. 24, 2020 at 7:30 p.m. at Alumni Arena on the University at Buffalo North Campus. In addition to being selected at the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Keynote Speaker, Dr. Salaam is also the Undergraduate Student Choice Speaker for the 2019-2020 Distinguished Speakers Series.

During the program, audio and/or video photography, as well as still photography, will be limited to the first five minutes of his lecture.

Working media may reserve tickets by contacting Doug Sitler in the UB Office of Communications at no later than noon on Monday, Feb. 24.  Reserved tickets may be picked up at the will-call window in Alumni Arena prior to the program. Media may need to show press credentials in order to be admitted to the program.

Media Contact Information

Douglas Sitler
Associate Director of National/International Media Relations
Faculty Experts

Tel: 716-645-9069