Bryan Stevenson: Just Mercy
Bryan Stevenson grew up poor in Delaware. His great-grandparents had been slaves in Virginia. His grandfather was murdered in a Philadelphia housing project.
Living in Atlanta in his 20s, Stevenson was sitting in his car in front of his apartment listening to the radio one evening when a police SWAT unit shined a light inside and pulled a gun. "Move and I’ll blow your head off!" an officer shouted. Stevenson says the officers suspected him of theft and threatened him—because he is black.Read More
That incident has fueled Stevenson’s drive to challenge racial bias and economic inequities in the U.S. justice system. He is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based group that has won major legal challenges, eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent prisoners on death row, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. A Harvard Law School graduate and recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, he has argued six cases before the Supreme Court.
In his April 1 lecture, “Mercy, Redemption and Restorative Justice for the Condemned,” Stevenson will share the story he tells in a TED talk that has registered more than 2 million views and in Just Mercy, his critically acclaimed memoir, which one reviewer described as “an inspiring story of unbreakable humanity in the most desperate circumstances, and a powerful indictment of our broken justice system and the twisted values that allow it to continue.”