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“The Court’s Role Is to Maintain the Social Order.” “Jesus Couldn’t Have Won It.” We Go Back in Time with the Words of Famed Attorney William Kunstler, Sharonne Salaam, Mother of Yusef Salaam, and His

StoryDecember 06, 2002
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The famed, late attorney William Kunstler represented Yusef Salaam years ago in the appeals process. Kunstler later wrote in his memoirs, My Life as a Radical Lawyer:

“The judicial system of New York State has done to Yusef what some years ago in the South would have been done with a rope or a rifle. I am not surprised at the Court of Appeal’s decision, because the court’s role is to maintain the social order. Keeping Yusef and as many blacks as possible in prison, is a part of the function of the judiciary.”


  • Emily Kunstler, daughter of attorney William Kunstler, reading from William Kunstler’s book, My Life as a Radical Lawyer.
  • Sharonne Salaam, mother of Yusef Salaam, who was convicted as a juvenile of first-degree rape and robbery. Yusef served 6 1/2 years in prison. Sharonne is the founder and director of People United for Children, a grassroots organization dedicated to building bridges between incarcerated children and their communities.

The Central Park Jogger case has become one of the most famous miscarriages of justice in this country of all time. In our last few minutes, we’re going to remember another case, one over seventy years old.

It’s the famous Scottsboro case.


  • Robin D.G. Kelley, Chair, History Department, New York University and author of several books including Freedom Dream: the Black Radical Imagination (Beacon Press, 2002) and Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression.

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