During an event hosted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Michael B. Jordan was tasked with presenting the Central Park Five with the Roger Baldwin Courage Award, aligning with the group of men’s newest cinematic perspective via Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us Netflix miniseries.
“It’s dangerous in America when you’re living in a black body,” Jordan said, going on to cite the perseverance of Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise as the ACLU reflected on When They Us.
“The whole time that these men were incarcerated, they never changed their story,” he said. “They insisted of their innocence even as they did their time.”
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It was Salaam who would speak on behalf of all five men, getting emotional on the stand: “I’m not ashamed to cry in front of you,” he declared. “Our story is a story of an egregious miscarriage of justice.”
The five men also accepted DuVernay’s Social Responsibility in Media Award. While the story of the Central Park Five certainly is not new. DuVernay’s four-part series has presented audiences with a nuanced and emotional chronicle of the men’s wrongful convictions as teens to their 2002 exoneration.
“After decades of being known as the Central Park Five, we thank Ava for acknowledging our humanity and telling our story with honesty and factual representation,” Salaam would say, while accepting the director’s award. “We had to struggle to break the label that the media gave us. We stumbled forward, falling on our face at times.”