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Ken Burns with the Central Park Five

“We as a country have become so dialectically pre-occupied that everything is black or white, or young or old, or rich or poor or whatever, that is a kind of collective tragedy that we all share in.”

The Central Park Five preview Screening and Discussion took place at 92Y on November 20, 2012. In this clip, the panel featuring two of the case’s wrongly jailed men, Raymond Santana and Yusef Salaam, alongside filmmaker Ken Burns, author Sarah Burns and New York Times editorial writer Brent Staples react to both Burns’ film on the case that swept the nation as well as how the tragedy altered their lives.

For Salaam, watching the film has been “therapeutic” and has been “such a healing process.”  Santana says “we lost some of the great years of our lives” and that he struggles with the fact that he “was taken advantage of by the system.”

imgres-3Sarah Burns, whose book on the Central Park Five was released in 2011, speaks about how she got involved in writing a book and working on a film about the case, and to “explore some of the questions of how did this happen.” In light of what has come to pass in Florida with the Trayvon Martin case and others, her final words in the book seem prophetic.

“The Central Park jogger case and the fear of crime from the 1980s still haunts the memories of many New Yorkers, and the use of animal terms to describe disorderly minority teenagers continues without reflection or remorse.”

Ken Burns talks about race being a sub-theme of the case and film.

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