The story of Salaam and the four other men — then boys — who were wrongfully convicted was recently told in Netflix’s miniseries “When They See Us,” written and directed by Ava DuVernay.
Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron Mccray, Raymond Santana Jr. and Korey Wise’s convictions were vacated in 2002 after they each spent between seven and 13 years behind bars. The convictions were overturned after a serial rapist confessed to the crime. Salaam was just 15 years old when his life was upended and changed forever.
Since his release, Salaam has become a father, poet, activist, and inspirational speaker. He has committed himself to advocate and educate people on the issues of mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct, false confessions, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in America’s criminal justice system, especially for young men of color.
He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate and received the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama and was later appointed to the board of the Innocence Project in 2018.
“When They See Us” has generated waves since its May 31 release. The prosecutor for the Central Park jogger case, Linda Fairstein — who’s portrayed by Felicity Huffman in the series — has faced repercussions for her mishandling of the case decades later, including being dropped by her longtime book publisher. She has also resigned from the board of her alma mater Vassar College and the board of Safe Horizon, a nonprofit victim assistance organization.
All five men were honored with the ACLU’s Roger Baldwin Courage award earlier in June, where actor Joshua Jackson, who played Mccray’s attorney, talked about how the series has played an important part in “redressing the media narratives and how these boys — and men now — were done wrong in the narratives that were told that around them.”