At the heart of Ava DuVernay’s “When They See Us” is the fate of Antron McCray (Caleel Harris, Jovan Adepo), Kevin Richardson (Asante Blackk, Justin Cunningham), Yusef Salaam (Ethan Herisse, Chris Chalk), Raymond Santana ( Marquis Rodriguez, Freddy Miyares) and Korey Wise (Jharrel Jerome). The five black men from Harlem were wrong arrested and convicted for the supposed rape of the Central Park jogger, twenty-eight year-old white jogger Trisha Meili (played by one Alexandra Templer, making her debut in entertainment with this role).
Antron, Kevin, Yusef, Raymond, and Korey were found guilty in 1990. Each one was sentenced to several years in prison. For years they fought to assert their innocence. Thirteen years passed before they were able to do so successfully. In 2003 they sued the City of New York for damages and were awarded a settlement in 2014.
With “When They See Us,” award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay (“Selma”) has taken on one America’s greatest legal scandals. Not only does the Central Park Jogger case point to a failure of the justice system but also it stands as inglorious symbol of institutionalized racism. The fact that the five men sued the city for racial discrimination, among other accusations, speaks to this sobering diagnosis.
A companion special, titled “Oprah Winfrey Presents When They See Us Now,” premiered on June 12, 2019, on Netflix and the Oprah Winfrey Network.
The series so far: Season One (it includes four episodes).