Dr. Yusef A. Salaam to Deliver Keynote Address at 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration


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“I have a dream”— words that resonate through our collective history with a breathtaking profundity. Spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on August 28, 1963, in Washington D.C. among a quarter of a million civil rights supporters, these words helped to change the life of America.

On Jan. 20, through a partnership among Grand Valley State University, Davenport University and Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Rapids is invited to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King for the 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Celebration at Fountain Street Church.

The celebration commemorates 57 years since the March on Washington where Dr. King delivered his famous speech and 52 the iconic leader’s assassination.

Attendees will be treated to a keynote address by Dr. Yusef A. Salaam. In 1989, at the age of 15-years-old, Salaam was one of five young black men wrongly accused and convicted of raping a woman in New York City’s Central Park. Their convictions were overturned in 2002 when new DNA evidence was linked to a convicted murder and serial rapist who confessed to the crime. The men are widely known as “The Central Park 5.” 

Since his release, Yusef has been working to educate people about false confessions, police brutality and misconduct, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in America’s criminal justice system He has been awarded an honorary doctorate and the President’s Life Time Achievement Award in 2016 from President Barack Obama.

He was appointed to the board of the Innocence Project in 2018 and released a Netflix limited series called “When They See Us” based on the true story of the “Central Park Five.” 

Click here for more information. 

What: 34th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Celebration

Where: Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St. N.E.

When: Jan. 20, 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., doors open at 5:00 p.m.

Cost: Free