Month of Empowerment: Remembering the Central Park 5

Kevin Richardson, one of the exonerated Central Park 5, leads a Q & A session at Bronx Prep Charter High.

Assistant Principal Cassius Gil and history teacher Marielle Colucci contributed to this post.

When you’re living in the South Bronx, it can feel easy to hate. From both experiences and the cases studied in history classes, our Bronx Prep scholars are growing more aware of the injustices happening in their backyard, and want to do something about it.

Kevin Richardson, one of the exonerated Central Park 5 members, was gracious in visiting our school to discuss his experiences the criminal justice system. We knew it was crucial for students to hear from luminaries alive to offer firsthand accounts of what it takes to uphold our nation’s fundamental values.

Mr. Richardson still lives in Harlem, and most of what he shared sounded eerily familiar to students. But he implored them to “not let our experiences push us into a negative cycle. Ours is a very slippery slope. Stay focused – there’s a lot out there that can throw you off.”

Students’ emotions ran between bewilderment and optimism during the talk. Mr. Richardson’s story shined a light on patterns in police-community relations recurring over the past three decades. “One piece of advice that I have for young people,” Mr. Richardson stressed, “is to stay aware – know the law, know your history, read, and stay persistent. You have to strive, not try – trying sets you up for failure. And appreciate the community that you have around you – we are the majority. Don’t take that for granted. Channel that energy into something positive.”

Paraphrasing Mr. Richardson, we’d agree that the future is bright and unlimited, no matter the present circumstances. Our main goal for this event, and ones like it, is to ensure students know their rights and fully understand the world outside of our school walls. And also to shower guests like Mr. Richardson with DP swag – symbolizing the love we want them to share and ultimately receive in a changed world.

Find more photos from the event here.

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