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A Review of Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

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Just Mercy: A story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson was completely eye opening. A true reflection on our-selves, I think. How we understand people that are different than us in any way. Just mercy focuses on the injustice and racism against the blacks. Bryan fighting for the rights of his black (poor) clients, facing absolute hate from the people in Georgia and Alabama. He founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a practice to help the ones in need being falsely accused. 

Stevenson’s first case was with Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to death row for a murder he insisted he didn’t commit. Stevenson’s first encounter with judge Robert E. Lee Key. Lee made a statement to warn Stevenson to not take on the Walter McMillian case. He says that Walter may be one of the biggest drug dealers in Southern Alabama. Is that really true or is that his perception of all blacks? I think this book really was an eye opener. People really thought like this, because of someone’s skin color, they are different. It is so crazy to me, to even imagine the logical reasoning behind that. 

Continuing judge Lee encourages Bryan to drop the case because Walter is a “bag guy” and when Bryan declines because he has taken the side of his poor black clients, Lee states that he will not do any favors for Bryan during the trial. He says this because he is mad that Bryan is supporting the black people instead of letting them go to trial and lose. Walter is sadly placed on Alabama’s death row because of the false accusation. McMillian experiences it all first-hand while in his impending execution for a crime he had nothing to do with. He is suspected to have been ordered by a (white) man to kill another victim. False evidence like this begins to build up heavily worsening McMillian’s plea and making Stevenson’s job more difficult than it already is. This of course begins to get back to the public which would make his job even harder with their opinions. The author describes his own personal experiences with individuals whose experiences and actions teach him about the power of compassion and hope. The author’s narration of McMillian’s case eventually shows how well respected and extremely successful throughout this process he was. With that being said, the author was very fortunate with all of his endeavors and his goals such as: “getting Walter’s sentence reduced, getting his conviction overturned, and bringing the systemic issues raised by what Walter went through to the attention of the public.” 

Throughout this story I think that there is a bigger lesson taught then just the racism and injustice these black people faced. I think that we are shown that you can’t always listen to what you hear or see. You have to trust your own instinct. Not the person next to you just because it is what everyone is doing. Be a Bryan Stevenson, stand up for what you believe in and what you think is right. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t truly understand what it was like for someone to go through the racism and injustice a lot of people faced.

Works Cited

  • “Walter McMillian.” Equal Justice Initiative, 2016, McMillian/.

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