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Kevin Richardson will receive an honorary degree from Syracuse University, the first degree awarded in SU history, the university announced on Friday.
SU students launched a petition last year to award an honorary degree to Richardson, who hoped to attend university before being unjustly arrested for a crime he did not commit. Richardson visited the university for the first time in September 2019, when SU announced that it had created a scholarship in his honor.
In 1989, Richardson and four other black and Latino teenagers – Korey Wise, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam – were falsely accused and arrested for the rape of a woman running in Central Park. Only in 2002, when the perpetrator admitted the crime, were the “Central Park Five” exonerated. The five men are now known as the Five Exonerated.
Chancellor Kent Syverud announced the delivery of the honorary title at a virtual ceremony held as part of the meeting of Latin American and Black students of the SU returning together. Although the honorary degrees are typically doctorates, Richardson specifically requested that he graduate in fine art – the diploma he hoped to obtain at SU.
“We had planned to award this diploma in early May in 2020,” said Syverud. “We will reschedule our graduation ceremonies as soon as we can. And we look forward to honoring you, Kevin, personally here at our stadium. “
After his resignation, Richardson became an advocate for criminal justice reform through the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate individuals who have been unjustly convicted of crimes.
Richardson’s compassion, commitment to education and perseverance in the face of injustice have made him exceptionally qualified for the honorary degree, said Syverud.
“Syracuse University has never before, in its 150 years, received an honorary degree,” he said. “I can’t think of anyone who deserves this unique honor anymore.”
published in October 17, 2020 at 9:50 am
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