Ava DuVernay shared a heartfelt birthday message on Twitter in honor of Korey Wise, whose story was portrayed in her critically acclaimed series “When They See Us.”
The director tweeted a portrait of Wise on Friday, writing, “Today is the day that a king is born.”
Wise, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and Kevin Richardson, widely known for decades as the so-called Central Park Five, were wrongly convicted as teenagers of a brutal rape that took place in New York City’s Central Park in 1989.
DuVernay’s Netflix limited series, which was released May 31, put a spotlight on their stories.
“His power is his survival,” DuVernay said of the now-47-year-old in her Twitter post. “His strength is his sword. He defeats darkness daily. He endures. He inspires. Saluting you today, @KoreyKingWise. I celebrate your life and thank you for letting me be a part of it. Happy Birthday, brother.”
Wise, the oldest of the five black and Latino men of the Central Park Five, spent nearly 13 years behind bars. He served time until 2002, when the convictions of each of the men were vacated. DNA evidence and a confession linked a convicted serial rapist and murderer to the crime.
In 2015, Wise funded the Korey Wise Innocence Project at Colorado Law, a student-led volunteer program that investigates claims of wrongful convictions.
Many people on Twitter joined DuVernay in sending birthday wishes to Wise.