The exonerated Central Park Five men received high praise when they hit the stage on Sunday at the BET Awards.
Host Regina Hall introduced the now ‘Exonerated Five’ – Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise – who have become the face of injustice at the hands of the American legal system. She spoke passionately about the traumatic case that landed them behind bars wrongly convicted of rape of a female jogger in in 1989.
Back then, the coerced confessions of the five teenage boys were used to convict them of the heinous crime they didn’t commit.
“We are all in our own individual journeys in life,” said Korey Wise as he steadied his voice in the emotional moment, The Daily Mail reports.
“We don’t know where our journeys will take us or how they will collide with others,” Antron McCray said.
“We didn’t know that one day would bond me to these men for the rest of our lives,” Kevin Richardson added.
“But I know that in telling our truth, our lives have been changed forever,” Yusef Salaam said.
“Your truth is the foundation your legacy will be laid upon. Your truth will be the memories people keep long after your gone,” said Raymond Santana.
— BET (@BET) June 24, 2019
In 2002, the convictions were overturned, after the real perpetrator confessed, and the men were later awarded $41 million from the city. Since then lead prosecutor Linda Fairstein has been cancelled by the internet and forced to step down from several prominent boards after protests.
The crowd at BET was welcoming to the men as stars like Cardi B, John Legend, and Tyler Perry cheered them on from the audience and gave then a resounding standing ovation..
And Ava DuVernay took to social media to share a heartfelt message: “#BETAwards We see you, brothers. We see you.”