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‘Exonerated Five’ member honors MLK at Madame Walker Legacy Center

MLK Day commemorated around Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Madame C.J. Walker Legacy Center held its 38th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Celebration, featuring speaker Kevin Richardson of the ‘Exonerated Five,’ formerly known as the Central Park Five.

In 1989, a group of five teenagers were accused of raping a jogger in New York’s Central Park. Their story has gained renewed attention because of a Netflix show about the case.

Center leaders said although the facility is still being renovated, they made it a point to make it back to make it back home in time for King. They knew they needed a speaker with a powerful story. They said Kevin Richardson is who they needed.

The Madame C.J. Walker Theater carries a name that comes with a legacy. She was America’s first black woman who became a self-made millionaire.

“Keep going forward and digging in knowing what our past was,” said president of the Legacy Center Judith Thomas.

It’s a fitting location to honor another legacy: Martin Luther King Jr.

“It’s MLK Day. To be on stage and speaking about justices and injustices and fighting for equality is everything he was about,” said Richardson.

He’s a criminal justice reform advocate. And he knows firsthand about injustice. Tears frequently streamed down his face. He said even after all this time, knowing what he lived through gets to him.

“I thought I would channel that aggression. I have and changed it to something positive.”

Thirty years ago, he and four other teenage boys known as the Central Park Five were convicted of raping a jogger, but were ultimately exonerated in 2002 after another man confessed to the crime. Their story gained new attention with the Netflix release of “When They See Us.”

“We thought Kevin Richardson was the perfect person to get a message out there of renewal and faith and focus,” said Thomas. “And that’s what we’re doing we’re really doing ourselves, we’re focusing on the future.”

Richardson said it’s odd being put in the same class as King when it comes to fighting injustices: “It’s overwhelming, but I must carry that.”

He’s also working on a new venture called the Exonerated Five Foundation.


Missing toddler’s mother and grandmother are in same jail

BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The mother and grandmother of a missing 15-month-old girl are now in the same Tennessee jail after giving conflicting accounts about the toddler’s disappearance.

Authorities frustrated by their multiple versions of what happened to Evelyn Mae Boswell announced Wednesday that they’ll hold an afternoon news conference on developments in the case, which prompted an Amber Alert after she was reported missing on Feb. 18, at least seven weeks after she was last seen.

The girl’s 18-year-old mother, Megan Boswell, is in the Sullivan County Jail in Tennessee on a charge of filing a false police report. Her mother, Angela Boswell, is being held there as well, on charges of theft and violating probation in an earlier case.

One version Megan Boswell has repeated is that her mother took her daughter to a campground in Mendota, Virginia; authorities then searched multiple campgrounds in that area and found no sign of the girl, WJHL-TV reported.

Angela Boswell and her boyfriend, William McCloud, were arrested last week in North Carolina on fugitive warrants unrelated to the toddler’s disappearance. Before she was returned to Tennessee, Boswell told the judge she wanted to go home and resolve the situation with her granddaughter, news outlets reported.

Boswell was returned to the Sullivan County jail on Monday evening and arraigned on Tuesday on a theft charge, news outlets reported. The judge set her bond at $5,000 in the case, but Sullivan County Sheriff’s Capt. Andy Seabolt said she will remain incarcerated because a bondsman revoked her bond in another, unrelated case.

Megan Boswell joined her mother at the jail Tuesday night, and her bond was set at $25,000, the sheriff’s office said.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, meanwhile, said there are so many unanswered questions that it decided to post a video addressing what they don’t know.

The TBI said McCloud and Boswell are “believed to have information” regarding the girl’s whereabouts. The agency also said that while the Amber Alert said Evelyn Mae was last seen on Dec. 26, they can’t be sure of the date because of the mother and grandmother’s conflicting accounts.

The Bristol Herald Courier reported that the Amber Alert was issued after the sheriff’s office received a Tennessee Department of Children’s Services referral saying family members hadn’t seen the baby in about two months. The baby’s great-grandfather, David Jones, told the newspaper that he hadn’t seen the baby since about a week before Thanksgiving.