Ken Burns on Race and The Central Park Five: “A Kind of Collective Tragedy”


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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.”  Sarah Burns, whose book on the Central Park Five was released this year, spoke 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.” Ken Burns talks about race being a sub-theme of the case and film, and he thinks 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.”

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