EVENT: Yusef Salaam – one of the Exonerated Five young men wrongly convicted in the 1989 “Central Park jogger case” – will be the featured speaker at the UCI all-campus commencement ceremony at Angel Stadium of Anaheim to honor the class of 2022.
The Exonerated Five spent between seven to 13 years behind bars for crimes they did not commit, until their sentences were overturned in 2002. Since then, they have received a multi-million-dollar settlement from the city of New York for its injustice and have been profiled in award-winning films, including The Central Park Five documentary from Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon and most recently the Emmy award-winning Netflix limited series When They See Us, written and directed by Ava DuVernay.
Over the past two decades, Salaam has become a family man, father, poet, activist and inspirational speaker. He continues to utilize his platform to share his story with others and educate the public about the impact of mass incarceration and police brutality in our justice system. He regularly advocates for criminal justice reform, prison reform and the abolition of juvenile solitary confinement and capital punishment.
Salaam is also a New York Times bestselling author, and recently released his memoir, Better, Not Bitter, details his journey. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Barack Obama in 2016.
Salaam is replacing actor, writer and former White House aide Kal Penn as the featured speaker, due to an unanticipated professional conflict.
WHEN/WHERE: Wednesday, June 15, 3:30 p.m. at Angel Stadium of Anaheim. Parking is free. Students will be walking in to be seated at 3 p.m.
Enter the parking lot from either Orangewood or State College. There will be a check-in table where credentials can be attained in from of the Home Plate Gate, which is the main entrance located in between the two big red hats. Media seating is in Section 121 in Diamond Club seating in the first three rows. Media will be escorted to their seats. Photographers may request special credentialing for on-field access.
Parking lots open at noon, gates open at 1 p.m. Please arrive early to allow time for parking and security screening.
INFORMATION: Media planning to attend must RSVP in advance Tom Vasich at 949-285-6455; email@example.com.
HIGHLIGHTS: More than 4,500 graduating students will be attending with their friends and families. It’s UCI’s first all-campus commencement since 2014, when President Barack Obama spoke to excited Anteater students, families and supporters at Angel Stadium.
Anteater fun fact: the actor who played Salaam in the Netflix series is UCI student Ethan Herisse.
BACKGROUND: UCI also hosted individual on-campus commencement events June 10-13 for each of its academic schools, at which diplomas were conferred. These events were held in the Bren Events Center on the UCI campus. About UCI’s commencement ceremonies: https://commencement.uci.edu