Michael B. Jordan was given the honour of presenting the Central Park Five with the Roger Baldwin Courage Award at an ACLU of Southern California event.
The actor began with telling a familiar story to anyone growing up black in America. “It’s dangerous in America when you’re living in a black body,” Jordan said.
The men received the honour just a week after the premiere of When They See Us—a Netflix miniseries based on the 1989 Central Park Jogger case in which five teenagers of colour were wrongfully convicted of rape and assault.
“The whole time that these men were incarcerated, they never changed their story,” Jordan said, according to the Associated Press. “They insisted of their innocence even as they did their time.”
Yusef Salaam, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise received a standing ovation as they took the stage to receive the award.
“I’m not ashamed to cry in front of you,” Salaam said. “Our story is a story of an egregious miscarriage of justice.”
The men were also at the event to accept the Social Responsibility in Media Award on Ava DuVernay’s behalf. DuVernay directed the four-part series, which portrayed the men’s interrogation, trial, incarceration, and 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 said, 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.”