Bryan Stevenson is the author of Just Mercy, his autobiography, and founder of the Equal Justice initiative based in Montgomery, Alabama. He has dedicated his life to helping those unjustly sentenced, or facing excessive punishment. In January, he came to campus to give this year’s Reynolds Lecture. This was an especially significant opportunity since my class had just traveled to Montgomery and toured the EJI’s museum.
Throughout his lecture, Stevenson continually expressed the importance of proximity. He talked about his direct interactions with the clients he served, like the first death row prisoner he met as an intern, and the one he was not able to save. He was even able to change the mind of a prejudiced prison guard. Simple human contact was able to make a difference in these people’s lives, and defied the apathetic nature of the legal system.
I cried after this lecture; I was once again reminded just how broken the world was, and how much injustice was in it. I was just filled with the need to do something, anything, about it. Whatever I end up doing in life, I need to have that drive. I know that I need to do something to help people. Learning all these things is useless if I don’t use it to make the world better.