Dr. Yusef Salaam Urges Students, Community Leaders, Organizers, and Neighbors to be Purposeful in Building More Socially Just Communities

In 1989, five teenagers were wrongfully convicted of the rape and assault of a white female jogger in Central Park. Thirty years later, one of the exonerated “Central Park Five” spoke with a sold-out crowd in Battell Chapel and joined a reception in the Dwight Hall Common Room. “The Central Park jogger case is actually a story of how a criminal system of injustice can be turned on its side to produce a miracle in modern time,” Salaam said, expressing disbelief that he was ultimately exonerated. “This is a story of how people can be brought low only to rise because the truth can never be buried.”

Dr. Salaam in Battell Chapel

Dr. Yusef Salaam’s November 19, 2019 campus visit and Battell Chapel speech were organized by the Yale Chaplain’s Office, Muslim Life at Yale, and Dwight Hall at Yale’s Muslim Leadership Lab, and supported by the Afro-American Cultural Center, the Office of the Secretary and Vice President of University Life, the Office of Community Equity at Yale Divinity School, the Asian American Cultural Center, Yale College Council, La Casa, and the Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration.

It was an incredible evening with over 800 New Haven community leaders, organizers, and residents alongside Yale students, faculty, chaplains, and campus leaders. We came together to hear Dr. Salaam’s profound message of personal, spiritual, and political transformation, and to celebrate the work of all of those advocating for criminal justice reform.

Dr. Salaam’s remarks highlighted the good that can emanate from past injustices, when individuals and organizations work collectively to build a more compassionate and just world. Please see the Yale Daily News article here.

A powerful excerpt of Dr. Salaam’s speech can be heard in this segment produced by Between the Line, a weekly radio newsmagazine.

Dwight Hall and partners encourage your continued involvement in building just and beloved communities here at Yale, in New Haven and beyond, through thriving student-run member groups, by supporting lasting social change through programs like the Yale Prison Education Initiative, or creating the next generation of social justice leaders through the Muslim Leadership Lab.

Photo Credit: Dr. Salaam Photo by James Han

For more stories, check out the Voices and Stories Archive page.