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.
 An oral recording of the Town Hall presentation is available on the web.