For the 2016-2017 school year, Auburn chose the novel, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson as the common book for the year.
In September 2019, it was announced that this New York Times Bestseller on criminal justice reform would be turned into a movie.
Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law School in 1985 and began working as a public interest lawyer. A few years later in 1989, he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization focused on ending mass incarceration and wrongful punishment in the United States.
“EJI is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced or abused in state jails and prisons,” according to the EJI website.
“Just Mercy” was written in 2016 and was based on personal experiences of Stevenson while defending incarcerated individuals.
“Just Mercy” focuses on the early days of EJI when they had a small staff trying to combat racial inequality in prisons.
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The movie will star Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson and tell the story of Walter McMillian played by Jamie Foxx.
As part of the Critical Conversations Speaker Series hosted by Auburn at the beginning of the year, Stevenson was invited to speak to students on the importance of remembering our history and the lingering effects of racism in America.
“My genuine fear is that they don’t remember,” Stevenson said. “That we actually haven’t created a culture, a nation that requires people to remember the damage we have done to one another as a result of this history of racial inequality.”
During his speech, Stevenson also discussed what the country should do in order to create a more just society.
“The narrative has to change if we want to be free, and because we have been practicing silence for so long, it can seem hard and scary to begin this conversation about how we overcome the history of racial inequality,” Stevenson said. “And on the other side of it, I actually think something wondrous is waiting for us.”
As to differences between the book and the movie, the EJI website states the book included more historical context and detail in cases, but the movie will still follow the story similarly. It will be in theaters in December 2019.
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