Agnes & A4J

When They See Us Prompts Exploration of Responses to Injustice

In an article for Glamour magazine, author, actor, producer and activist Tanya Selvaratnam examines what can be done to reform the racism of our criminal justice system following the premiere of Ava DuVernay’s When They See Us. The Netflix mini-series follows the story of Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Korey Wise, known widely as the Central Park Five, or by DuVernay as the Exonerated Five.

Selvaratnam points to Agnes Gund and her creation of the Art for Justice Fund as an example of what can be done in response to the injustice of mass incarceration. She writes:

“And when officials, whose job it is to protect and serve us, don’t answer, we can take a cue from art collector and philanthropist Agnes Gund. After watching Ava DuVernay’s 2016 documentary 13th, Gund called Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation, and together they hatched the Art for Justice Fund, of which DuVernay is now a board member. Gund sold a beloved painting, “Masterpiece” by Roy Lichtenstein, and gave $100 million to fund organizations, including Equal Justice Initiative, Color of Change, Alliance for Safety and Justice, and Civil Rights Corps, that fight mass incarceration.”

In the piece, Selvaratnam also shares how we as individual members of our society can take cues from the Exonerated Five when fighting systemic injustice.

Learn more about concrete action toward criminal justice reform here.