African American History Black History Month

Feb 6: The Central Park Five

by Olivia Noll

Clockwise from top left, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Korey Wise, Marquis Rodriguez, Jharrel Jerome, Ethan Herisse, Asante Blackk and Caleel Harris.Credit…Brad Ogbonna for The New York Times

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” To me, it is incomprehensible that these young boys were convicted of the crime in the first place”

The Central Park Five are a group of five males, four African Americans and one Latino. In 1989, the group of boys, ranging from ages 14 to 16, were falsely accused of raping a white female jogger in Central Park, New York City. The boys received sentences ranging from six to thirteen years. The attack highlighted racial tensions in the city, particularly about African American youth. In 2002, the case was solved after the confession from Matias Reyes, serial rapist and murderer. The DNA evidence confirmed that the Central Park Five were truly innocent. The five males, Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana, and Korey Wise, known as the Central Park Five received a $41 million settlement and the charges were lifted. Recently, Netflix created a mini-series telling the story of the Central Park Five titled When They See Us.


I saw a preview for the mini-series “When They See Us” on Netflix; I think the topic is interesting due to the recent spotlight it has got in the media through Netflix. I wanted to read more about the case and find out information about the young males involved. It is interesting to look back into history, although this is not too far back in time, and see how the trends still remain today. It is not uncommon for us to hear about the injustice of the criminal justice system, especially involving people of a different race. To me, it is incomprehensible that these young boys were convicted of the crime in the first place.

If the color of their skin were different, they probably would not have been convicted of the crime in the first place. People still believe for this to be somewhat true today. – that those of a different race, receive harsher punishment than those who are white. I have read studies that African Americans receive longer sentences than white men for the same crimes committed. This story is proof that there is still injustice for people of color.

It is important during Black History Month to look and bring attention to the themes that are still pertinent today. Should we not be concerned that this is still happening? We really should. The unfairness to those of a different race in 2020 blows my mind. And while we think it all ended with the end of the Civil Rights Movement, it did not. It is still happening.

As a future educator, I think Black History Month holds great importance. Although I will instill good values in my students all the time, Black History Month is a great way to shine light on the past in order to help shape the future young minds. By recently bringing the Central Park Five story back into the spotlight, hopefully people realize that what happened in 1989 still happens to a certain degree today.