Dr. Yusef Salaam
The 2020 Exoneree Fellow was Dr. Yusef Salaam.
Dr. Yusef Salaam is a published poet, public speaker and powerful advocate for criminal justice reform. He regularly speaks out against injustice by sharing his story and fighting for social change. He is part of “The Exonerated Five”, who were wrongly charged and convicted in 1989/1990 of a highly publicized rape in New York’s Central Park. While in prison, another man confessed to the crime. Tests confirmed the presence of that man’s DNA in the victim’s rape kit. On the recommendation of the Manhattan District Attorney, the convictions of all five men were overturned and the men were exonerated in 2002. Dr. Salaam was imprisoned for close to seven years and had finished parole before his conviction was overturned.
The story is the subject of Ava DuVernay’s acclaimed Netflix dramatization “When They See Us”, which was nominated for 16 Emmy Awards, winning 2. Dr. Salaam has received various awards for his work, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama.
In 2021, The Quattrone Center hosted an online conversation between Dr. Salaam and world-famous recording artist and criminal justice reform advocate, John Legend, who also serves on the Advisory board for the Quattrone Center.