How did your reading go in May? Did you read any of the books from our Book Flight, or did you find something else to read for this month’s theme of racial justice, advocacy and civil rights?
I read the main title, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I had braced myself for lots of dry, stuffy legalese but instead found a lively, beautifully written, completely engaging book filled with compassion and heartbreak and hope. Stevenson is a master at weaving together multiple stories, presenting each with a clear voice. I quickly found that it was a book that I couldn’t put down.
Bryan Stevenson is fresh out of law school when he heads to Alabama to create the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned and women and children trapped in the labyrinth rules and laws of the criminal justice system.
Early on Stevenson takes on the case of Walter McMillian, a young black man who was convicted of killing a white woman, a murder he did not commit but for which he’s been sentenced to die. In the months and years that Stevenson works on McMillian’s case he comes up against not only racial prejudice but also conspiracy, political corruption and legal challenges. Despite this, Stevenson never gives up. He visits McMillian and other men on Death Row, most of whom have been tossed aside and forgotten by society. He goes to the homes of their families to offer comfort and advice. He works relentlessly to find answers and to correct mistakes not just for McMillian, but for dozens of other cases as well. Slowly the Equal Justice Initiative grows and makes inroads against a broken system.
While the many stories of injustice are horrible, it’s the fact that these stories happened not just a hundred years ago, or even fifty years ago, but that many injustices continue to this day is chilling. That someone like Bryan Stevenson (and many others), continue to fight and educate on these injustices does give me hope.
How did you feel after reading a book from this month’s “Book Flight”? Did you feel anger or frustration? Did you learn anything about what has happened in our recent past, and what continues to happen in our criminal justice system? Did it give you a better understanding of why people may fear the police rather than trust them?
Be sure to share your thoughts on this month’s Book Flight in the comments below.