Award-winning author, motivational speaker, and criminal justice reform advocate
Assistant Professor, University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice
Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice
No one’s life is the sum of the worst things that happened to them, and during Yusef Salaam’s seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five, he grew from child to man, and gained a deepened spiritual perspective on life. He learned that we’re all “born on purpose, with a purpose.” He channeled his energy and pain into something positive, not just for himself but for other marginalized people and communities.
Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice is the first time that one of the now Exonerated Five is telling his individual story, in his own words. Dr. Salaam writes his narrative: growing up Black in central Harlem in the ’80s, being raised by a strong, fierce mother and grandmother, his years of incarceration, his reentry, and exoneration. He connects these stories to lessons and principles he learned that gave him the power to survive through the worst of life’s experiences. He inspires readers to accept their own path, to understand their own sense of purpose. With his intimate personal insights, Dr. Salaam unpacks the systems built and designed for profit and the oppression of Black and Brown people.
In 1997, Dr. Salaam left prison as an adult to a world he didn’t fully recognize or understand. In 2002, the sentences for the Central Park Five were overturned, and all Five were exonerated for the crime they didn’t commit. Dr. Salaam now travels the world as an inspirational speaker, describing the effects of incarceration and the devastating impact of disenfranchisement. He is an advocate and educator on issues of mass incarceration, police brutality and misconduct, press ethics and bias, race and law, and the disparities in the criminal justice system, especially for men of color.
Dr. Salaam will be in conversation with Reuben Jonathan Miller, Ph.D., assistant professor at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. His research examines life at the intersections of race, poverty, crime control, and social welfare policy. His new book, Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, is based on 15 years of research and practice with currently and formerly incarcerated men, women, their families, partners, and friends.
This event suitable for youth 12+. It will be recorded and available later on our website and YouTube channel.
BONUS AFTER-HOURS EVENT: Attendees who purchase a copy of Better, Not Bitter from FAN’s partner bookseller The Book Stall are invited to attend an AFTER-HOURS event hosted by Dr. Salaam that will start immediately after the webinar. Details on the webinar registration page.
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- Countryside Day School
- Evanston Scholars
- Evanston Township High School D202
- Foundation 65
- Fusion Academy
- Latin School of Chicago
- Loyola Academy
- New Trier High School D203
- New Trier Parents’ Association
- Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy
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- Regina Dominican College Preparatory High School
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- Roycemore School
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- Stevenson High School D125
- Wintrust Bank
- Youth & Opportunity United (Y.O.U.)