A dream come true: Member of the Exonerated Five receives SU’s first honorary undergraduate degree

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Kevin Richardson always dreamed of attending Syracuse University. He shared what it’s like being on campus.

“I feel like I belong here, that I am really here,” Richardson said, “It feels good to come back two years later and see people actually. I dreamed of this as a kid, being 14.”

He loved music and basketball, and this campus had both.

“I always pictured myself with Syracuse,” he said.

He was robbed of that dream in 1989. That’s when he and four other teens were convicted of brutally raping a woman in Central Park- a crime they never committed. They were known then as the ‘Central Park Five.’ In 2002, they were all exonerated when the real rapist came forward.

“It’s a long time coming,” he said.

Now at the age of 46, Richardson was the first person in Syracuse University history to receive an honorary undergraduate degree, as part of the class of 2020.

“To be recognized by the university, that’s a really big deal,” Richardson 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.”

He said his daughter also wants to study music at SU. His mom was also there to witness this historic honor.

“My mother is so excited. She’s proud to see me because, the last time I actually attended a graduation, I was in sixth grade,” he explained.

While he may have never been a student here, his resilience has taught us all so much.

“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 recalled.

In 2019, the university also honored him by establishing a scholarship in his name called the Our Time Has Come Kevin Richardson Scholarship.

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