Kevin Richardson receives honorary undergraduate degree


Playing the trumpet: It was Kevin Richardson’s lifelong dream that he shared with Oprah Winfrey.

“One of my goals was to play for Syracuse University, and I never achieved it,” said Richardson.

League students have started a petition for him to receive an honorary degree. Last month, Syracuse University awarded Richardson an honorary Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music.

Honorary degrees are usually awarded at the doctoral level, but Richardson specifically requested an undergraduate degree.

“Here I am now in my 40s and I thought this ship had sailed,” said Richardson. “So when I was told about it, I was like ‘wow’, if I could really get a Bachelor of Music degree like I wanted as a kid – that’s all I really want.”

Kevin Richardson with his trumpet; Photo courtesy of Syracuse University

He is one of five black and Hispanic men who were falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1989. In 2002, all five were cleared after the real rapist came forward.

The story was brought to light in a Netflix series last year called “When They See Us.” Now Richardson is working with The Innocence Project to help others.

“I work with them, I fight for the people, I am a voice for the voiceless because there are so many people who are still incarcerated and I told them that I will never forget them,” added Richardson .

Last year, Richardson visited League Hill for the first time. He received a trumpet among other gifts and it was announced that a scholarship would be established in his name.

Kevin Richardson speaks at Syracuse University; Photo courtesy of Syracuse University

“He’s always had this love for our school and we just thought it would be a way for Syracuse to do something fantastic in terms of giving back and showing people that there is hope,” said Rachel Vassel, Assistant Vice-President of the League’s Multicultural Promotion Office. .

Thinking of his legacy with college now, Richardson added, “If I could inspire one person, I think I did my job.”

Richardson’s honorary degree will be officially presented at the opening ceremony of Syracuse University.

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