By Lynette Rice
June 10, 2019 at 03:55 PM EDT
Credit: Atsushi Nishijima/Netflix

It’s a painful but necessary movie to watch.

That’s the message shared by the Exonerated Five — Antron McCray, Korey Wise, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana, and Yusef Salaam — in a special taped Friday about the Netflix limited series When They See Us from Ava DuVernay.

In this clip from the special, Oprah Winfrey interviews the cast and executive producers about the series, which chronicles the case of five teenagers of color who were variously convicted of assault, rape, and attempted murder based on what they long maintained were coerced and false confessions. Their sentences were eventually vacated in 2002.

The four-part limited series starts in the spring of 1989, when the teenagers were first questioned about the rape of a white female jogger in Central Park. The series then spans 25 years, including their exoneration in 2002 and the settlement they received from New York City in 2014.

In a tweet, LeVar Burton, who earned an Emmy nomination in 1977 for playing Kunta Kinte in the ABC miniseries Roots and another in 2016 for producing a remake, called the limited series “essential viewing.”

“I had to keep breathing,” he wrote. “Episode #1 nearly broke my heart, however I’ll keep watching. This is essential viewing for EVERY American! As essential to your understanding of America as was, ROOTS! Brava, @ava.”

Oprah Winfrey Presents When They See Us Now will premiere June 12 at 10 p.m. ET on OWN and Netflix.

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