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Bryan Bedder

Wrongly Convicted Central Park 5 Men Speak Out 30 Years After The Case

In 2014, the City of New York paid a $41 million settlement to the now middle-aged men known as the Central Park Five for wrongfully convicting them of the rape and attack of a white female jogger. Yet, 30 years after their case, the men say the money has done nothing to quell their traumatic experiences.

“I mean, it made it better where we were able to – relocate, put our children in better situations,” Raymond Santana said. “But besides that, no.”

In 1989, Santana, along with Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray and the oldest among them 16-year-old Korey Wise were coerced and often beaten, by the NYPD during intense interrogation. The teens' parents weren't present.

The five men say they were told to confess to the crime (although they weren't told what the crime was) simply to get the police to stop assaulting them.

"As soon as we get in, they separate us and they start working on us, and I'm hearing Korey being physically beaten in the next room and I'm immediately beyond afraid," Salaam said to CBS.

Richardson said at the time his mother had diabetes, suffered a stroke and left the police station. When asked what took place during her absence, Richardson responded: "What didn't happen?"

The men are the subject of Ava Duvernay's newest project When They See Us. The Netflix four-part miniseries examines their lives and the case from their perspective. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker said the purpose of the project is to challenge.

"My goal was to humanize boys and now men who are widely regarded as criminals, and in doing that, to invite the audience to re-interrogate everyone that they define as a criminal.”

Four of the five teens served about seven years in juvenile detention centers. Wise, who was the oldest, was tried as an adult and sent to Rikers Island where he served 13 years. Donald Trump, then just working in real estate, took out full-page ads in New York newspapers calling for deaths of the teens.

When Matias Reyes, who ironically was in prison with Wise, confessed to the crime (and DNA evidence corroborated his statement), Trump still alleged the five men were guilty. He also called the settlement "ridiculous."

Today, the men say their past experience is with them regularly.

“Life lessons for me is just truth, truth,” McCray says. “I preach to my kids, ‘Just tell the truth. Be true to who you are.’ Honestly, the last time I lied, got me seven and a half years for something I didn’t do. So I’ll always preach that.”

When They See Us will stream on Netflix May 31.

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Billionaire Robert F. Smith Will Also Cover Parents’ Loans In Morehouse College-Debt Plan

In May 2019, Morehouse College’s graduating class of 2019 not only received the gift of their degrees, but also a unique opportunity to enter society debt-free. During his commencement speech, billionaire and owner of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, Robert F. Smith announced his pledge to cover each student’s loans, and now their parents will be able to get in on the life-changing gesture.

According to Bloomberg, Smith will pay off the federal loans taken by the students’ parents, adding to a $34 million tab. Private student loans gifted by the college, and federal and state loans will be covered under Smith’s plan.

Morehouse's president, David Thomas, said this action will hopefully inspire the recipients to follow in Smith's footsteps. “It is our hope that our graduates will use their newfound financial freedom to pursue their career goals, to lead and serve the community, and to remember the spirit of the gift given to them by paying it forward to support the education of future classes of Morehouse Men.” The HBCU aims for the plan of action to be completed by 2020.

For Smith, with a reported net worth of $6 billion, his vision through this program aims to inspire other colleges and universities to take a charge against this country's student debt crisis and “to receive gifts from alumni and other supporters that can offset the burden of student loans and give students the freedom to pursue their dreams, the capital to invest in the economic growth of their families and the time that they can give back meaningfully to strengthening their communities.”

According to Forbes, U.S. federal student loan debt has totaled over $1.5 trillion.

Wow! Billionaire Robert F. Smith surprises Morehouse graduates by announcing his family will eliminate the student debt of the entire class of 2019 with a grant. #PayItForward #HBCU pic.twitter.com/lbZmttSsB6

— Tomthunkit™ (@TomthunkitsMind) June 10, 2019

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DMX Reportedly Signs New Deal With Def Jam

DMX has signed a new deal with Def Jam Records, bringing him back to the label that distributed his early albums and classic singles. According to AllHip-Hop, X re-linked with the record label over the summer and is set to drop a Christmas album, DMX-Mas, either later this year, or in 2020.

X dropped his quadruple platinum debut album, It’s Dark And Hell is Hot, via Def Jam/Ruff Ryders Records in 1998. He went on to release four more album under the label including, his triple platinum sophomore LP, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, followed by ..And Then There Was X, the latter of which became his most successful studio album selling five million copies in the U.S. alone.

X, whose birth name is Earl Simmons, is one of hip-hop’s best-selling artist with just over 17 million records sold, but like many other recording artist, the beloved MC hit more than a few bumps over the years. The 48-year-old Yonkers native has endured money struggles and a very public battle with sobriety that played a part in his returns trips to jail. He was most recently released from custody this past January, after serving a year in prison for tax evasion.

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J. Cole Says He Won't Be Doing Anymore Guest Features

Don’t expect to hear a J. Cole guest verse on songs for other artists. Cole recently blessed tracks like Young Thug’s “The London” and 21 Savages “A Lot,” but the North Carolina born rhymer says that he’s done making guest appearances after the release of his biggest feature yet: Gang Starr’s “Family and Loyalty.”

Naturally, the “Middle Child” rhymer was honored and elated to be featured on the track, and working with DJ Premier might be the perfect way to bow out of the features game. “This is the last feature you’ll hear from me,” Cole tweeted Friday (Sept. 20). “Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run.”

This a honor to be on this song. NEW Gang Starr 🤯🤯🤯🤯 💎💎💎💎

This is the last feature you’ll hear from me. Thank you to everybody I got to work with during this run. 🙏🏿@REALDJPREMIER This song a classic, thank you. RIP GURUhttps://t.co/MMBI5Z2Fcq

— J. Cole (@JColeNC) September 20, 2019

“Family and Loyalty,” marks the first new single from Gang Starr in 16 years, and reacquaints us with the lyrical genius of Guru, who died from cancer in 2010.

As for Cole, the Grammy-nominated rapper has a lot on his plate between his solo career and the Dreamville Records imprint. The label boasts a star-studded roster that includes Bas, Cozz, Omen, EarthGang, and the incomparable Ari Lennox. The collective released their third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, earlier this year.

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