Rubin “Hurricane” Carter has been immortalized in two biographies, a Denzel Washington movie, and a Bob Dylan song, all of which spun from Carter’s own memoir, The Sixteenth Round: From Number 1 Contender to #45472. On Wednesday, April 13, the man who inspired all those tributes will speak on “The Fight for Justice” at University of Illinois at Springfield.
Carter, a former middleweight boxer dubbed “Hurricane” because of his high-speed fists, had been a world-champion contender before he and an acquaintance were charged with a 1966 triple murder in Paterson, N.J. Convicted by an all-white jury, Carter was serving three life sentences in Rahway State Prison when his book attracted the attention of Dylan, Joan Baez, Muhammad Ali, and Roberta Flack. Eventually the book found its way into the hands of a group of Canadians who moved to New Jersey to help Carter appeal his sentence. In 1985, U.S. District Judge H. Lee Sarokin freed Carter, ruling that his conviction was based on racial prejudice rather than facts.
Carter used his time in prison to mold himself into a gentler, more philosophical man. Once released, he moved to Canada, where he founded the Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted.
His appearance at UIS is sponsored by the Downstate Illinois Innocence Project, housed within the college’s Institute for Legal and Policy Studies, along with the Inter-Club Council Board, Speakers Award Committee, and Student Activities Committee.
Rubin “Hurricane” Carter speaks at 7:15 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, in the Studio Theatre, on the lower level of the Public Affairs Center at UIS. The speech is free, and the public is invited. Carter will also be the guest of honor at a 5:15 p.m. fundraising reception in the PAC restaurant. Tickets to the reception, which cost $50 per person, may be reserved; call 217-206-7985 by April 7.