Yusef Salaam of Central Park 5 wins Cornel West endorsement for Harlem seat on NYC Council
City Council candidate Yusef Salaam, who rose to prominence as one of the Central Park 5, locked down the endorsement of the famed intellectual Cornel West on Tuesday.
Salaam is running in this June’s Democratic primary election to represent Harlem in the 9th Council District and is facing off against three established candidates in the race — Assembly members Inez Dickens and Al Taylor, as well as the incumbent, Kristin Richardson Jordan.
“Yusef Salaam is the answer to the question: who does Harlem deserve to represent it in the City Council?” said West, the author of the book “Race Matters” and a former philosophy professor at Harvard University. “Yusef’s story is Harlem’s story — and he will be a brave, courageous and forceful advocate for change.”
West suggested Salaam’s lack of experience as an elected official would be an asset and urged voters not to select the opponents, who, combined, have decades worth of experience in public office.
“Now is not the time to elect the same people to the same jobs they’ve always had,” West said. “We need new leaders who can take on our communities’ toughest challenges. I know Yusef will always side with this community and will be the advocate we deserve.”
Salaam has already picked up endorsements from Manhattan Democratic honcho Keith Wright and Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell and has prioritized affordable housing and workforce development, as well as a promise to “right-size the scope of the NYPD” as part of his campaign platform.
Dickens and Taylor have also gotten support ahead of this summer’s primary. Over the weekend, Dickens snagged the backing of Rep. Adriano Espaillat, and Taylor has won the backing of state Sen. Cordell Cleare and Assemblyman Eddie Gibbs.
Richardson Jordan does not appear to have secured any endorsements, based on her campaign website, and she did not immediately respond to the Daily News.
While Salaam has not held public office before, he is known to New Yorkers as one of the Central Park 5 — a group of five Black and Latino teens who were wrongly convicted and exonerated years later in the 1989 rape of a white jogger.
In the wake of the horrific attack, Donald Trump called for the teens to face the death penalty. During his time as president — years after the men had spent time in prison and were exonerated — Trump still refused to apologize for making those statements.
Salaam, a public speaker and author, called West’s endorsement “an honor.”
“Cornel has spoken out boldly about truth, justice and the importance of standing up for what’s right, and in the City Council I will do just that,” he said.