Yusef Salaam writing memoir about his wrongful imprisonment

    Grand Central Publishing is calling the book a 'candid and poignant look at the life of an American citizen...who was accused and convicted by a flawed criminal injustice system'

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    One of the five teens wrongly imprisoned for the assault on a Central Park jogger has a memoir coming out in the spring.

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    Grand Central Publishing announced Monday that it had acquired Yusef Salaam’s “Better, Not Bitter: Living On Purpose in The Pursuit of Racial Justice.” The publisher is calling the book a “candid and poignant look at the life of an American citizen, born and raised in Harlem, New York who was accused and convicted by a flawed criminal injustice system designed to ensnare and decimate as many Black and Brown bodies as possible.”

    Salaam is one of the so-called Central Park Five, now also known as the Exonerated Five. The five Black and Latino teens were coerced into confessing to a rape they didn’t commit in 1989. All served prison time before being exonerated in 2002. They later received a multimillion-dollar settlement from New York City. Ken Burns made a documentary about them and Ava DuVernay directed a Netflix series.

    Honoree Yusef Salaam poses at the ACLU SoCal’s 25th Annual Luncheon in Los Angeles on June 7, 2019. Salaam, one of the five teens wrongly imprisoned for the assault of a Central Park jogger, has a memoir coming out in the spring. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

    “One of the most powerful lessons I learned while being wrongfully incarcerated was that instead of going through something, I was going to grow through something,” Salaam said in a statement. “Through ‘Better, Not Bitter,’ I hope to share these lessons with people around the world who – in these unprecedented times – are dealing with rage, anger and bitterness directed at a criminal system of injustice that has plagued our country for centuries.”

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    Salaam, an activist and motivational speaker, recently published a young adult novel based on his experiences. “Punching the Air,” co-written by Ibi Zoboi, came out in September.

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