In Harper Lee’s fictional novel To Kill A Mockingbird, an African American field hand is falsely accused of raping a white women. Set in the 1930’s in the small town of Monroeville Alabama, Addicus Finch an even handed white attorney tries to shed a light on the injustice of this innocent black man’s conviction. Atticus feels that the justice system should be color blind, and he defends Tom as an innocent man, not a man of color.
Bryan Stevenson has the same focus in the nonfiction memoir Just Mercy. He uses the pages of his memoir to tell the story of an innocent black man, in Monroeville Alabama who is falsely convicted of killing an 18-year-old, white, female, college student. In this story the year is 1980, but the racial divide still runs deep.
Bryan Stevenson grew up poor on the Del-Marva peninsula, a grandchild of Virginia slaves. He is a public interest lawyer, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery Alabama. He has dedicated his life to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the unjustly condemned (Stevenson, 2012). He writes this book to allow the reader to get close to, “mass incarceration and extreme punishment in America” (Stevenson, 2015). Stevenson takes us on a journey with Walter McMillian, and in every other chapter he recounts numerous similar stories of injustice, incarceration, and innocent men and woman on death row wrongly convicted. He takes us on this voyage to shine a light for the reader on the, “how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned” (Stevenson, 2015).
Walter McMillian is a youthful African American in Alabama, a successful pulp-wood business owne...
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... story relates when the passenger train swept along a curve it would shine a light through the prison bars and if the light would shine on you, your woman was on board with the papers from the Governor to get you out of prison, the light of unmerited grace ("Truth and Justice Watch," 2010).
Bryan Stevenson has taken us on this very real journey through the prisons in the south, where men and of color have been forgotten. Many sentenced to death row without adequate representation. He uses his life’s work, his passion for justice and hope to shed a light for everyone who will listen, that criminal justice reform in this country, in the racially segregated south, and for poor youth of color in the cities is in desperate need of reform. He left me with the hope that there are still people willing to work tirelessly to shed that light of hope that truth still matters.
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