Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and author of “Just Mercy,” visited Creighton before fall break to discuss his book and share how people can be agents for positive change.
Stevenson is an activist who works to help those imprisoned, especially those on death row. In this lecture, Stevenson focused on the continued impacts of racism and slavery in society today, particularly within the legal system.
“The opposite of poverty is justice,” Stevenson said.
Stevenson emphasized the importance of being proximate to people who experienced poverty and injustice. Stevenson attributed his success to his ability to be proximate to the people whom he served.
Stevenson shared several stories of imprisoned people who have been unjustly sentenced, whether it be life without parole or the death sentence. The audience clapped at many points during the speech, especially after a story about a justice victory.
“I have zero interest in punishment,” Stevenson said. “My interest is liberation.”
Steveson pointed out how German students learn about the Holocaust and go to the locations of concentration camps, contrasting the United States, where statues of Confederates still stand, and parts of history are glossed over. Stevenson argued that reconciliation cannot come without telling the truth first.
“We’re going to have to make a commitment to do the uncomfortable,” Stevenson said.
Several Dean’s Fellows students from Creighton were given the chance to attend this event.
“I wanted to go to this event because, as a pre-law student, I found Bryan Stevenson’s story particularly inspiring, and I may want to do work like that in the future,” freshman Erin Buglewicz said. “I was really inspired by his message about hope. He talked about inmates, such as Walter McMillian, who have been wrongly imprisoned for years yet still managed to hold onto hope.”
Freshman Tyler Chritensen said he was impacted by Stevenson’s speech. “I think the portion of Bryan’s speech where he talked about proximity and it’s importance in the legal system was very impactful and inspired me,” he said.
Another freshman, Bryn Taylor, felt a personal connection to Stevenson’s lecture through her father and her volunteer work. “I volunteer at a hospital and the things he talked about has made me more conscious and compassionate towards the patients I help,” Taylor said.