Today (November 26th) Minnesota Public Radio will broadcast at Noon (CST) and 9:00 p.m. (CST) Bryan Peterson’s presentation yesterday at the Westminster Town Hall Forum, “Just Mercy: Reforming the Criminal Justice System.” It is great! Listen!
I was at the Forum yesterday and heard one of the most inspiring and articulate presentations I have ever heard on any subject. I was expecting to hear a detailed agenda for making legal changes in our criminal justice system. Instead, Stevenson delivered this powerful message to every citizen in this country:
- Everyone needs to get closer to the poor people and the incarcerated.
- Everyone needs to reflect on the history of racial injustice in our country and change the narrative on race. We need truth and reconciliation on race.
- Everyone has to find a way to stay hopeful about changing this injustice. It is not easy. It requires a reorientation of the spirit.
- Everyone needs to choose to do uncomfortable things. Go inside prisons, for example. The opposite of poverty is justice, not wealth. The quality of a society is judged by how it treats the poor.
Bryan Stevenson is a public-interest lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which is committed to eliminating bias against the poor and people of color in the criminal justice system. A professor at New York University Law School and a graduate of Harvard Law School, he argued for and won the historic ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. His new book, Just Mercy, profiles the lives of men, women, and children who are at the mercy of a broken criminal justice system.
Stevenson grew up in Alabama. He started school in a “colored school” and only after desegregation of his town’s schools was he able to obtain a high school education. His great-grandparents were slaves, and his parents daily were subjected to humiliation because of their race.
Thank you, Bryan Stevenson for inspiring and challenging us.