MADISON, Wis. – One of the Exonerated 5 spoke Thursday at Madison College about racial injustice and the story of his wrongful conviction from his own perspective. Yusef Salaam was one of five people of color who were accused of brutally sexually assaulting a white female jogger in Central Park, named Trisha Meili, in 1989.
Years later in 2002, serial rapist Matias Reyes confessed to the crime. The five were then released from prison.
Now Salaam is an advocate and educator on racial disparities within the criminal justice system. He said race played 1,000% into his conviction, but because of it, he’s to find value in his voice for those who are voiceless.
“The true battle isn’t about black and white,” Salaam said. “It’s not really a fight in terms of white people against black people, and this and that. It’s really about making sure that the evils we see in high and low places are stomped out.”
He said that for those who are put into a situation like his own, it’s not what you go through, but rather what you grow through.