NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois State University hosted its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Cultural dinner Friday night.

The guest speaker for the sold out event was Yusef Salaam of the Central Park Five. Salaam and four other minorities were wrongful convicted as juveniles for assaulting and raping a white woman in 1989. They were all exonerated in 2002.

ISU Alumni Association Board Member Daniel Jackson said Salaam connects with King’s legacy through hardship and service. He said both stood on the right side of history.

“We’re appreciative that he’s able to share with us. Because those were difficult moments for him. But I’m thankful that we are able to listen and learn as he’s going to share what he knows of his own service,” said Jackson.

The first federal observance of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was in 1986.