One of the most moving moments during the BET Awards this year, held Sunday night in Los Angeles, came when The Exonerated Five, formerly known as the Central Park Five took the stage.

The stories of Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray were depicted in the critically-acclaimed Netflix series, When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay.

ESSENCE cover star and BET host Regina Hall said it was her “honor” to introduce the men, who quickly received a standing ovation from the celebrity crowd, which included Rihanna, Tyler Perry, Cardi B, The Migos and more.

“[We each had] our individual journey in life. We didn’t know where our journeys would take us or how they would collide with others. I didn’t know that one day would bond me to these men for the rest of my life,” the men said onstage to applause. “But I know that in telling our truth, our lives has been changed forever.”

And although the men were there to remind us of their stories and deliver an important message, they were also there to introduce performer H.E.R., who they said was also “serious about telling her truth”.

The ESSENCE digital cover star delivered a stirring performance of her song, “Lord Is Coming.”

The BET Awards also included performances by Lil Nas X with Billy Ray Cyrus, Migos, Cardi B, who opened the awards ceremony, and ESSENCE digital cover star Lizzo.

The Exonerated Five served six to 15 years for the rape and assault of Trish Meili, who was jogging in New York City’s Central Park in April 1989. There convictions were later vacated when serial rapist and murderer Matias Reyes confessed to the rape and assault, with DNA evidence corroborating his story. They received a $41 million settlement from New York City in 2014 for their wrongful conviction.

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