Dr. Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five announced his official candidacy for City Council’s District 9 in Harlem at an event at the Old YMCA building on West 135th Street this past Saturday. He was joined by his family, children, and supporters.
Putting feelers out last November, Salaam has steadily built his City Council campaign since his move back to the district. He has raised $3,252 in private funds so far, according to the New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB). Other major opponents in the race include incumbent Councilmember Kristin Richardson Jordan, Assemblymember Inez Dickens, and Assemblymember Al Taylor.
The event at the Old YMCA building began with a prayer from Imam Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid and Reverend Conrad Tillard. “Oh God, we ask that you don’t allow him to run this race in vain,” said Tillard.
Salaam’s backstory has earned him worldwide recognition as a justice advocate. As a 15-year-old youth, he and his friends were wrongfully convicted in the Central Park Jogger case in the 1990s. Their convictions were overturned in 2002 after they spent between seven and 13 years of their lives behind bars. He is now a decorated author, speaker, and family man with 10 children.
“Everything that happened to me, everything that happened to us—some of my younger children weren’t even born yet to experience the nightmare that we were awakened to,” said Salaam. “But we are here now to chart a new path forward and with you behind me, we can move mountains.”
His mother, Sharonne Salaam, has been a long-standing prison and human rights advocate at Justice 4 the Wrongfully Incarcerated because of her own son’s false conviction. She recalled that many other young people other than Salaam who were incarcerated didn’t have visitors or advocates to assist them, which ultimately led her to a life of service.
“Yusef [and family] have always been a very strong and important part of my life,” she said. “They have given me a lot of strength to be able to stand and go through what I had to do as an unprepared mother. I am very pleased to be here today and to know that Yusef has decided to move forward with his life. And not only move forward to help himself, but move forward to help others.”
Salaam promised that he would fight to be the “voice” of Harlem at City Hall, hold city government accountable, ensure services are more accessible and effective, make streets and parks safe, and focus on mental health services for the community.
“I will ensure any development that comes to our district advances the interests of those who have lived through the blight,” said Salaam. “Today begins Harlem’s campaign for change, and I look forward to working with you all as we lead our neighborhood into a new era of glory that truly provides liberty and justice for all.”
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.
HI, YUSEF , AND CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW JOURNEY TO PUBLIC OFFICE.
I AM HAPPY FOR YOUR BRAVERY TO PROSUE PUBLIC HUMANITY ! THAT’S MY DEFINITION OF PUBLIC OFFICIAL. I AM A DISABLE SENIOR OF HARLEM FOR OVER 40 PLUS YEARS. MY CONCERN IS CORRUPT HOUSING MANAGEMENT. CAN I SPEAK WITH YOU ( ALONG WITH OTHER HARLEM SENIORS ) SENIORS NOW BUT STARTED OUT MUCH YOUNGER ADVOCATE ? 212 444-2620 CELL
Leave a comment