Two members of “The Exonerated Five” will speak at the University of North Dakota on Wednesday, March 4, at 5 p.m., in the Gorecki Alumni Center.

    The conversation with Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam will be moderated by Tamba-Kuii Bailey, assistant professor of Education, Health & Behavior.

    The Exonerated Five, known for decades as “The Central Park Five,” were coerced into falsely confessing to committing a brutal crime by police when they were children. They would spend 13 years in prison before their exoneration in 2002, when the crime's real perpetrator confessed.

    The event is sponsored by the Diversity Committee in the UND College of Education & Human Development, The English Department, and the Division of Student Affairs and Diversity. There is no charge, and all are welcome.

Background information:

    On the night of April 19, 1989, a young woman was brutally attacked and assaulted in New York’s Central Park. When she recovered, she had no memory of the assault. Five boys between the ages of 14 and 16 were tried and convicted of the crime in a case that rocked the city. They became known collectively as The Central Park Five.

    In 2002, those convictions were overturned and the boys, now men, were exonerated after a convicted murderer and serial rapist confessed.

    Now known as The Exonerated Five, the group has been committed to advocating and educating people on the disparities in America’s criminal justice system.

    In 2013, documentarians Ken and Sarah Burns released the documentary, The Central Park Five. The Exonerated Five received a multi-million dollar settlement from the City of New York in 2014.

    Raymond Santana now works closely with the Innocence Project and is a member of the New York City Justice League. He owns the clothing company Park Madison NYC, named after his home city of New York.

    Yusef Salaam was awarded an honorary doctorate in 2014 and received the President's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama. He was appointed to the board of the Innocence Project in 2018.

    Both Santana and Salaam have been involved with When They See Us, a 2019 Netflix feature series based on the true story of The Central Park Five, along with Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey and Robert De Niro. It not only became one of Netflix’s most-watched shows, but also earned the streaming giant a record 16 Emmy nominations.