Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson is “A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice – from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.” It’s the 2015 selection of Eastern Connecticut’s One Book, One Region program, started fifteen years ago with the goals of bringing people together to discuss ideas; broadening the appreciation of reading; and breaking down barriers among people.
Stevenson, a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant, divides his time between New York City, where he is a law professor at New York University, and Montgomery, Alabama, where he is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative. He has spent the last three decades fighting for the rights of the indigent and wrongly condemned, starting with Walter McMillan. In 1987, McMillan was arrested in Monroeville, Alabama and charged with a murder he couldn’t have committed. McMillan was then taken to Holman Correctional Facility and locked up on death row, a practice rarely done to a pretrial detainee. And this is where I'll stop.
In 1987, I was married and pregnant with my first son. I lived in Mystic, CT, and I was blithely unaware of what was happening in the justice system in Montgomery, Alabama or anywhere else. At 27 years old, I paid little if any attention to the racial struggles in America, thinking that the worst was over. Fast forward thirty years, and I can see that the prejudice, the hatred, and the tolerance of injustice still remains. Bryan Stevenson knew it all along, making the kind of difference few can commit to but many can learn from. Read it, and open your eyes.
Check out his TedTalk, too.