Dr. Yusef Salaam, a member of The Exonerated Five, is reportedly running for public office.
According to New York Daily News, Salaam is hoping to fill the state senate seat vacated by Brian Benjamin who was recently nominated to become the state’s lieutenant governor. The vacated seat represents Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side in the state senate. Sources close to Salaam’s campaign say he’s planning to focus his platform on prison reform, police brutality, and abolishing juvenile solitary confinement –– issues he knows personally.
In 1989, Salaam along with four others, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, and Antron McCray, were tried and convicted of brutally attacking a white woman in Central Park. The group of accused teens became known as the Central Park Five before their convictions were vacated in 2002 by New York Supreme Court Justice Charles J. Tejada. Netflix’s 2019 series When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay, highlights the men’s stories.
Since his release from prison, the 47-year-old has traveled the nation as a motivational speaker, activist, and poet. Salaam collaborated with author Ibi Zoboi on a book entitled Punching the Air, which was released in September 2020 and became a New York Times Best-Seller.
In 2016, former President Barack Obama awarded Salaam a Lifetime Achievement Award. Last month, Salaam became an honorary member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Salaam's newest book, Better, Not Bitter, is set to be released May 2022.