PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ In honor of Black History Month, Rhode Island College invited Yusef Salaam, a member of the Central Park Five, to share his story.
Salaam was one of five men who were wrongfully accused of raping a woman in Central Park in 1989. All five men served prison time before they were exonerated in 2002.
During his speech Friday evening, Salaam sent a strong message to students about the justice system that failed him and what he learned during his seven years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.
“In 1989, the spikes of justice rolled over me,” Salaam, who was 15 years old at the time, said.
It was a message that Roger Williams University student Bre’Anna Metts-Nixon knew she needed to travel to Providence to hear.
“This is something that’s not just a TV moment. This is something that people are going through and still going through,” she said.
Salaam’s story, and the story of the four other men who were wrongfully convicted, was shared in a Netflix series called “When They See Us.”
Now that Salaam is free, he’s able to travel across the country to share his story, asking those in the audience to share his message with those who need to hear it most.
After being exonerated, the Central Park Five sued the city of New York for discrimination and emotional distress. In 2014, the city settled for $41 million.