This is another “I didn’t read the book” report, and, again, it’s based on the fact that I heard the author speak. The University where I am employed regularly celebrates Constitution Day. Now THERE’S a “holiday” I can get behind! A distinguished guest is invited to campus. (These are generally the caliber of speaker that requires payment.) The speaker visits classes, lunches with a select few and offers an address open to the entire community, campus and neighborhood.
I had absolutely no idea what to expect from Bryan Stevenson. His topic was “Racial Justice and the Constitution”. But he began by talking about himself, his education and how he became involved with advocating on behalf of death row inmates. He described being sent with a message to a condemned man, informing him that he was not going to be executed for at least six months. He kept apologizing – “I’m not a real lawyer, I’m just a student” to a man so desperate that this was GOOD news.
Stevenson’s other anecdotes were of human contact, with prisoners and others including prison guards.
Stevenson held the large audience spellbound. I can’t imagine a better speaker for students to hear. Mass incarceration is one of the crucial issues of our era.
When asked what an individual can do, Stevenson’s main point was that you can’t solve social problems from a distance. You need to get close – visit or correspond with a prisoner, support a prisoner’s family, etc.