Ava DuVernay took on a story from our recent past: the case of the Central Park jogger, which the media spun into The Central Park Five.
This moniker described the five Black boys, who were falsely accused and convicted of brutally raping a white woman in New York City. After these boys lost their innocence and spent six to 13 years in prison, a serial rapist confessed to the crime, freeing the young men.
But were they really free? Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray and Korey Wise were then young men of color, who had to grow up in prison because they were painted as criminals. Exoneration comes with the price of lives stolen after being caged behind bars, carrying unnecessary PTSD.
“There was a concerted effort to dim the light of the future by putting us in prison,” Salaam told ESSENCE during the red carpet premiere of When They See Us, held last week. “Somewhere in that darkness, we got the message that we had to brighten our own lights to make change.”
Check out the video above to hear more from the cast, along with celebrities and activists sharing their thoughts on what happens when a group of young Black men, the 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College, was granted financial freedom after Black billionaire Robert F. Smith vowed to pay off their student loans.
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