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On America

On America: The Carceral System and Racial Justice with Ian Manuel and Yusef Salaam


Wednesday, 7:30 pm EDT May 26, 2021

Online via Zoom

Ian Manuel and Yusef Salaam come together for a special event in the On America series to discuss matters of crime, punishment, and racial justice. Both men have memoirs slated for release in May, revealing aspects of their time in prison and the injustices that led to their convictions.

In My Time Will Come, Manuel, who was sentenced to life in prison at just fourteen, reveals his perspective on the heartbreaking and difficult path to reducing his sentence through Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative. Salaam’s inspirational memoir Better, Not Bitter recounts his seven years of wrongful incarceration as one of the Central Park Five and the lessons and principles he has learned to survive the worst of life’s experiences.

Sarah Burns, director of the documentary film The Central Park Five, will moderate the event.

This event is presented in partnership with Youth Justice Network.

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In Conversation

  • Ian Manuel author photo (2) (1) - Zach Cihlar

    Ian Manuel

    Ian Manuel

    Ian Manuel lives in New York City. He is a poet, and motivational speaker at schools and social organizations nationwide.

  • Promo Yusef 2 - Zach Cihlar

    Yusef Salaam

    Yusef Salaam

    Yusef Salaam is the inspirational speaker and prison abolitionist, who, at age fifteen was one of the five teenage boys wrongly convicted and sentenced to prison in the Central Park jogger case. In 1997, he 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. Yusef now travels the world as an inspirational speaker, speaking about 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.

  • Sarah Burns hi res - Zach Cihlar

    Sarah Burns

    Sarah Burns

    Sarah Burns is the author of The Central Park Five: A Chronicle of a City Wilding (Knopf, 2011) and, along with David McMahon and Ken Burns, the producer, writer and director of the documentary The Central Park Five, about the five Black and Latino teenagers who were wrongly convicted in the infamous Central Park Jogger rape of 1989. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, was named the Best Non-Fiction film of 2012 by the New York Film Critics Circle and won a 2013 Peabody Award.

About Youth Justice Network

Our mission is to break cycles of incarceration and build an equitable justice system by providing young people with individualized advocacy, mentorship, and opportunities to grow, thrive, and lead.

Founded as Friends of Island Academy in 1990, Youth Justice Network was created by a group of educators, social service staff, and community-based advocates at the alternative high school on Rikers Island — then named Island Academy.

Our model is structured on trusting relationships that drive positive outcomes forward. Whether we meet our participants in a jail, in court, or in the community, each participant has a Youth Advocate who facilitates their growth and development. Everyone we serve has someone they can count on.

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