Yusef Salaam

Yusef Salaam is a motivational speaker who serves on the board of The Campaign to End the Death Penalty and the Learn My History Foundation, an organization dedicated to youth empowerment, education and change. He’s the inspiration behind People United for Children Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving youth in the juvenile and foster care systems. In 1989, he was one of the five
 boys—four black and one Latino—
tried and convicted for the brutal rape of a young woman in New York City’s Central Park. They 
became known as “The
 Central Park Five.” Their convictions were vacated in 2002 after spending between six and 13 years of their lives behind bars. The now exonerated Yusef Salaam, who was 15 years old when he was wrongly convicted, 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 the disparities in America’s criminal justice system. In 2012, documentarians Ken and Sarah Burns released the documentary The Central Park Five, which tells this travesty from the perspective of Salaam and his cohorts.