Kevin Richardson, one of the members of the Exonerated Five, has received an honorary undergraduate degree from Syracuse University.
Richardson, who spent several years in prison after being wrongly convicted of rape, always dreamed of attending Syracuse. “I feel like I belong here, that I am really here,” he said during an interview with WSYR. “It feels good to come back two years later and see people actually. I dreamed of this as a kid, being 14.”
Richardson loved both basketball and music, which the campus had. “I always pictured myself with Syracuse,” he added.
Back in 1989, Richardson, along with Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray, were convicted of brutally raping a white woman in Central Park. They became known as the Central Park Five. In 2002, all of the teens were exonerated once the real rapist came forward and admitted to the crimes.
A detailed look into their convictions and exonerations was showcased in Netflix’s 2019 docuseries “When They See Us,” which was co-written and directed by Ava Duvernay. Following the film’s success, the men became known as the Exonerated Five.
Although his life was forever changed, Richardson is thankful he and the other men made it through. “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,” he said.
Richardson is now the first person in Syracuse history to receive an honorary undergraduate degree.
“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.”
Back in 2019, Syracuse established a scholarship in Richardson’s honor called the Our Time Has Come Kevin Richardson Scholarship.
Check out a clip from his graduation below.