We’re Not in that World Yet

StevensonIn a New York Times Magazine interview, Bryan Stevenson was asked, “What would the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. think of America if he were alive today?” This was his answer.

When he found out that one in three black male babies born in this country is expected to go to jail and prison, when he saw the level of poverty, when he heard some of the rhetoric that we frequently hear, I think he would be heartbroken. But I also think he would be excited that if he called a meeting, thousands would come. And that’s what has to happen, even without Dr. King — that we have to be willing to make that commitment so that we can create a world where if Dr. King emerged, he would be so proud to say his dream has finally been realized. We’re not in that world yet.

Bryan Stevenson is the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014) and the co-founder of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (informally known as the National Lynching Memorial).

A Knowledge Gap

StevensonFrom Christina Gregg in an article entitled “Bryan Stevenson: America’s failure to deal with history of slavery and Jim Crow has manifested” reposted from AOL.com:

As a white nationalist says President Trump incited him to shove a black female protester at a campaign rally last March, a new museum in Montgomery, Alabama aims to advance truth and reconciliation while addressing the often unspoken reality of racial horror in America.

Burning black people alive, hanging them, mutilating their bodies — the graphic history of U.S. racial violence is a shameful and difficult thing to confront, says Equal Justice Initiative founder and executive director Bryan Stevenson, adding racially-driven hatred present today is “a manifestation of our failure to deal effectively” with that past. Continue reading

Just Mercy

Bryan StevensonFrom lawyer Bryan Stevenson on DemocracyNow.org:

I think that we have too little compassion in our criminal justice system. We’ve been corrupted by the politics of fear and anger. We’re doing harsh, extraordinarily torturous things to people. And I think we’ve forgotten that, you know, it’s not mercy, it’s not justice, it’s not compassion, when we give it to people who haven’t done anything wrong. You earn the right to call yourself compassionate and merciful when you expose people who have fallen down, who have done bad things to your justice, to your mercy. And I see a criminal justice system completely devoid of mercy, which makes us completely devoid of justice. And we’ve got to do better.

*See also Stevenson’s latest project: a museum on slavery.