Syracuse University has awarded The Exonerated Five's Kevin Richardson an honorary Bachelors degree.
"Kevin Richardson, a member of The Exonerated Five, will be the recipient of the first honorary undergraduate degree in university history. Richardson is receiving an Honorary Bachelor of Fine Arts in music," the university tweeted.
"While honorary degrees are usually awarded at the doctoral level, when we contacted Richardson about the conferral, he specifically requested that he receive the bachelor of fine arts."
Richardson is one of five teenagers arrested in 1989 for allegedly raping Trisha Meili in Central Park. He was ultimately convicted and served seven years before being released on parole. The group of five young, Black men were later exonerated and awarded $52 million in damages from the New York State in the New York Court of Claims. In 2019, their story was adapted into a limited-series directed by Ava DuVernay.
Prior to being wrongfully arrested and convicted, Richardson was trumpet player with dreams of playing in Syracuse's band. As a result, he requested a degree in fine arts.
"Thank you everyone. It's blessings upon blessings. Let's go," he tweeted after receiving the news.
"He always wanted to go to Syracuse. That dream was cut short when he was arrested and convicted of crimes he did not commit. His life was endangered by Donald Trump, who called for his execution. But he overcame it all. Now, he’s a husband and father and - a Syracuse alum," DuVernay added.
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