The Bronx Preparatory Charter School’s graduating class of 2017 included the Central Park Five as the honorary graduates of this year.
The Central Park Five were involved in a horrible case of injustice that occurred back in 1989. The five men, four of which are Black, and one Hispanic, were sentenced to up 15 years in jail for the rape of a young female investment banker. When sentenced the boys’ age range was from 14-16 years old and they spent between 6-13 years in prison. During the trial, President Donald Trump took out a full-page ad at the time of the crime calling for New York to reinstate the death penalty to execute the men. New York paid them $41 million in a 2014 settlement.
It wasn’t until in 2002 when serial rapist Matias Reyes, who was already in prison for life, confessed to committing the crime that The Central Park Five paid the price for. DNA confirmed Matias’ confession, and the horrible truth that these five innocent men had their lives irreversibly derailed because of racial prejudice and systematic injustice.
While this honorary high school graduation ceremony isn’t even close to the reparations these men deserve, it’s still a very positive gesture to hopefully carry some impact in our society. The valedictorian of the Bronx Preparatory School said, “We will educate ourselves so that we stand for something larger rather than to fall for sensationalism, lies and injustice.”
Raymond Santana, of the Five, said: “When we went to prison, this was taken away from us. It was something we never got to experience … and we’ve finally found redemption.”
This beautiful ceremony is only a small step on the path to changing society, but if we begin to dedicate our endeavors to opening the perspectives of all people we can connect with, as done by the Bronx Preparatory School, we will see that change.