Kevin Richardson of the ‘Exonerated 5’ Gets Honorary Degree from SU

In Summary

Kevin Richardson of the "Exonerated Five" has received an honorary undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Syracuse University. 

Kevin Richardson’s lifelong dream has finally come true after getting an honorary degree from Syracuse University.  

While speaking to PIX 11 on the campus of the institution, Richardson said, “I feel like I belong here, that I am really here. It feels good to come back two years later and see people actually. I dreamed of this as a kid, being 14.”  

Richardson, who loves basketball and music, which are key parts of Syracuse, did not have a chance to apply, enroll or attend the institution. In 1989, he, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Antron McCray and Yusef Salaam were wrongfully convicted of brutally raping a woman in Central Park. Their case made national attention and they were known as the “Central Park Five.”  

RELATED: Yusef Salaam of ‘Exonerated Five’ Plans to Run for New York Senate Seat 

In 2002, they were cleared of all of the charges after spending years in jail as teenagers. Their new name, the “Exonerated Five,” was a representation of the horrific actions that took place in their cases full of police misconduct, coercion and racism. Their story was told in the Netflix series When They See Us.  

RELATED: Judge: Exonerated Five Prosecutor Can Sue Netflix for ‘When They See Us’ 

Richardson, who is now 46, will be the first person in Syracuse University’s history to receive an honorary undergraduate degree in Fine Arts. “To be recognized by the university, that’s a really big deal,” he said. “I brought my 13-year-old to witness it, to carry my legacy. So to be the first of anything is a blessing and I’m extremely humbled by it.”  

RELATED: The ‘Exonerated Five’s’ Yusef Salaam on Memoir & Prison Reform 

The University also honored Richardson in 2019 by establishing the Our Time Has Come Kevin Richardson Scholarship. Richardson doesn’t take this moment for granted, saying, “My brothers, as the Exonerated Five, we rose from the pitfalls of hell. And to be here literally is a blessing and I don’t take anything for granted.”  

If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.  

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