According to South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bryan Stevenson is “America’s young Nelson Mandela,” and he will be in Charlotte on Wednesday, April 29, to deliver a talk about racial injustice.
An attorney and civil rights activist, Stevenson has been spotlighted in Vanity Fair, on television’s “60 Minutes,” and has been named among the “100 Most Influential People” by TIME magazine. You may recognize him from earlier this month when he walked side-by-side with his client out of an Alabama jail. The man had served 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.
The Charlotte Observer has co-sponsored a series of talks with Bank of America and the Levine Museum entitled Our Time Re-Imagined. Stevenson will concentrate his talk on racial injustice and will also be signing copies of his bestselling book, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.”
Although he was born in rural Delaware, Stevenson calls Alabama his home. The Harvard Law School graduate founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989. It is no coincidence that the initiative was founded in Montgomery, the city that gave birth to the civil rights movement of the 20th century.
Stevenson was lucky enough to meet Rosa Parks early in his career. When she asked him to explain his initiative, he readily ticked off a list of issues. Barring life without parole sentences handed down to children, ending mass incarceration, helping people wrongly convicted, and eliminating bias in the judicial system. Parks reply? “That’s going to make you tired, tired, tired.”
Tired or not, Stevenson remains true to his ideals today, working for those he deems have been done wrong by a justice system that is not fair to all. Stevenson’s TED talk delivered at an annual conference, garnered a million in donations. That is impressive by anyone’s standards.
Stevenson has worked tirelessly for death row inmates and their families and not without criticism. Those who do not fully support his ideals wish that he considered the victim’s and their families as strongly as he champions for the accused. While not everyone agrees with the man’s work, no one can argue that he is very effective in what he does.
If you would like to hear what Stevenson has to say, you can visit the McGlohon Theater at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Tickets are $10 per person and students can attend for free. You may purchase tickets by calling 704-372-1000 or visiting CarolinaTix.org.