As promised, the executive producer took the Exonerated Five to the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards as her dates.
In a moving act of empowerment, executive producer of hit web television show When They See Us, Ava DuVernay took the Central Park Five, otherwise known as the Exonerated Five, to the 71st Emmy Primetime Awards on Sunday, September 22, evening. Walking alongside the producer on the esteemed red carpet were Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, the main subjects of the drama series, The Huffington Post reports. Rather than talking about fashion, the group chose instead to discuss the real story behind their wrongful incarceration and how the show has inspired many across the country while highlighting systemic injustice within the United States' judicial and prison systems.
Before she hit the red carpet with her "dates," DuVernay took a moment to post a special photo of them all decked up to social media platform Twitter. At the awards show, Salaam told E! News, "It was the most important thing for us to see each other’s story. To humanize us in such a magnificent way was such an honor. This was the first time after almost a decade for us to have seen each other’s stories." The filmmaker, best known for her 2018 fantasy film A Wrinkle in Time, had promised to invite the boys to the Emmys following the announcement that When They See Us had been nominated for a whopping 16 Emmy awards.
Unsurprisingly, users across the internet were big fans of the heartwarming red carpet moment. Many took to Twitter to live-tweet their reactions. Noabournexo posted: The Central Park Five being on the red carpet at the Emmys is such a f*ck Donald Trump moment, I am living for it. Fembeth_ added: The Central Park Five are at the Emmys with Ava Duvernay, I'm about to start bawling. Ash_Innes noted: The real Exonerated Central Park Five on the red carpet at the Emmys! Look at God! But nothing will ever be enough to pay back what they lost! NickBarb719 stated: Ava bringing the Exonerated Central Park Five to the red carpet and seeing them be interviewed like this on national TV is such a great moment. So powerful.
The groundbreaking television series picked up the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie, won by Jharrel Jerome. In his emotional acceptance speech, he dedicated his win to the Exonerated Five. He said as the group rose to their feet, "This is for the men that we know as the Exonerated Five. To Raymond, Yusef, Antron, Kevin, and King Korey Wise... I feel like I should just be in the Bronx right now, chillin,' waiting for my mom's cooking but I'm here in front of people I'm so motivated by." Jerome is the first Afro-Latino to bag the prestigious award, making the win even more monumental.
This was not the first time the Exonerated Five attended an awards show. In the past, they have made appearances at several other ceremonies. At the BET Awards, they received a standing ovation. The group said at the time, "We are all on our own individual journey in life. We don’t know where our journey will take us or if (it) will collide with others. One day will bond me to these men for the rest of our lives. But I know that in telling our truth, our lives have been changed forever. Your truth is the foundation your legacy will be built on." DuVernay’s Netflix series was so revolutionary as it followed the group's story from their perspective for the first time, highlighting important issues of systemic racial injustice and allowing the group to finally be humanized and viewed in a different light.