Monday, April 27, 2015

NPR Interview with Bryan Stevenson

Tracy King/Stockphoto
Bryan Stevenson conducted an interview with NPR back in October 2014. In this interview he shared a personal experience he had in his 20's as well as the case at the center of his book, Just Mercy.

The interviewer began by asking Bryan about an encounter he had with police in his 20's in Atlanta. Bryan had been listening to the radio in his car outside of his new home when a police unit pulled up and pulled a gun on him. Bryan describes the terrifying event in a calm and poised voice now, but he admits that at the site of the gun his first instinct was to run. Bryan was a Harvard law student at the time and remained calm, but it was this encounter that led him to ask young boys and men in the area if they know what to do if they are in that situation. He was surprised to discover that the majority of boys did not know what to do, and this was just one of many events that influenced his future work with the Equal Justice Initiative.

The rest of the interview focuses on the case at the center of Just Mercy. The discussion focuses not only on Bryan, but on Mr. McMillian himself. McMillian died in 2013. Bryan had the following to say about the early death of McMillian,
One of the things that pains me is we have so tragically underestimated the trauma, the hardship we create in this country when we treat people unfairly, when we incarcerate them unfairly, when we condemn them unfairly.
To hear the interview and to read the highlights click here 


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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Good Leadership is Key: Desmond Tutu on Bryan Stevenson and Malala Yousafzai

Bryan Stevenson
Photo by Annie Liebovitz for Vanity Fair
Desmond Tutu, South African humanitarian and social rights activist, discusses good leadership in a recent Vanity Fair article titled "Why Desond Tutu Thinks Bryan Stevenson is 'Shaping the Moral Universe.'" In the article he commends two individuals he feels are leaders making a difference in the world today. The two leaders are Malala Yousafzai and Bryan Stevenson.

Tutu had this to say about good leaders: 
Good leadership is key. Good leaders with the ability to identify the challenges and the tenacity to act on them.
He sees Stevenson as a "champion for justice" and Yousafzai as a champion of women of and girls' rights.

He acknowledges the challenges involved in working toward big change, but is hopeful that with good leadership, such as the leadership of Stevenson and Yousafzai, significant change is possible.
We may not be capable of changing the world in one fell swoop on our own, but when we swim together in the same good direction, we become an unstoppable force.

To read Tutu's article click here.
For more information about Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, click here.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Go Big Read selects ‘Just Mercy’ for 2015-16
by Jenny Price
Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls Bryan Stevenson “America’s Mandela.”
Stevenson has spent his career fighting for racial justice and wants his fellow Americans to realize that something is inherently wrong with the land of the free and the home of the brave having the highest incarceration rate in the world.
Photo: Brian Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson
Photo: Nina Subin
In the 1980s, Stevenson co-founded the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Alabama. Since then, he has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court five times and played a role in landmark court cases that have transformed how the criminal justice system deals with violent youths. His book, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” is the latest selection for Go Big Read, UW-Madison’s common-reading program.
Go Big Read organizers encouraged the campus community to suggest titles that fit into a theme of inequality in America. Chancellor Rebecca Blank chose “Just Mercy” from the short list that a selection committee culled from 200 nominated titles.
“Bryan Stevenson’s book raises tough and important questions about inequalities in the criminal justice system,” Blank says. “Now is a particularly good time to hold these conversations, as UW-Madison students, staff and faculty grapple with the ways in which these larger national issues affect our own community.”
Hundreds of UW students and community members have taken part in demonstrations following the fatal shooting by a Madison police officer of a black teenager on the city’s East Side, as well as grand jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York. Many more added their voices to this important discussion during campus forums.
Stevenson’s book focuses on one of his first cases, which involved Walter McMillan, a black Alabama businessman sentenced to die for the murder of a white woman despite having an alibi verified by dozens of witnesses. “The message of this book, hammered home by dramatic examples of one man’s refusal to sit quietly and countenance horror, is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made,” said a review in The New York Times. “‘Just Mercy’ will make you upset and it will make you hopeful.”
Stevenson grew up in Delaware and graduated from Harvard in 1985 with a law degree and a master’s degree in public policy. Since then he has helped secure relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, advocated for poor people and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice. He also is on the faculty at New York University School of Law and the winner of a MacArthur “genius grant.” Last year President Barack Obama appointed him to a task force established to recommend police practices that can improve relations between officers and the people they serve, particularly in minority communities.
William P. Jones, a professor of history and a member of the Go Big Read review committee, says he will use Stevenson’s book in his courses to introduce the question of “mass incarceration” and its impact on the economic and political history of the United States.
“There is perhaps no greater evidence of injustice and inequality in our society than the brutality, unfairness and racial bias displayed by our criminal justice system,” Jones says.  “‘Just Mercy’ is an ideal book for us to read and discuss together as we seek to understand and address those problems.”
By recounting his experience as a defense attorney, the author shows how poverty and racial bias work together to shape those inequalities, Jones says. “Stevenson forces us to confront the contradictions between our criminal justice system and our nation’s founding principles of equality, freedom and justice.”
Planning is underway for how students, faculty and staff will use the book in classrooms and for special events associated with “Just Mercy.” Stevenson is scheduled to visit campus Oct. 26, when he will give a talk in Varsity Hall at Union South. Copies of the book will be given to first-year students at the Chancellor's Convocation for New Students and to students using the book in their classes.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Malala Documentary in the Works

Director Davis Guggenheim
It was announced this week that a documentary called "He Named Me Malala" will be released sometime later this year. The film is currently in its post-production stage. The rights to the documentary were acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures and the film is under the direction of Davis Guggenheim. Guggenheim is well known for directing "Waiting for Superman" and "An Inconvenient Truth."

Guggenheim and his team spent the last 18 months with Malala and her family. With the documentary they will show Malala's personal story as well as the impact of her work and advocacy.

Although Fox Searchlight Pictures does not often take on documentary films they had this to say about Malala's story:
The chance to bring her story to a global audience will be an honor for all of us here at Searchlight.

For more information about this upcoming documentary click here.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Malala Receives Tamgha-e-Shujatt (Medal for Bravery) 


Commissioner Abbas and Malala
Image from Pakistan's Business Recorder
Syed Ibne Abbas, High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, awarded Malala Yousafzai the prestigious Medal of Bravery on behalf of the President of Pakistan. The Commissioner commended Malala for being a symbol of hope and courage for her country.

Malala dedicated the civil award to the schoolchildren in Peshewar and schoolchildren accross Pakistan who are fighting for their education.

For more information click here.

 

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Bravest Girls in the World

In 2014 Glamour magazine created The Girl Project. The Girl Project is is a philanthropic global initiative that raises money to help young women all around the world receive a secondary education. The goal is to help the fifty million girls around the globe who are denied the right to an education.The Girl Project addresses the barriers girls face in pursuing an education by creating a way for women in the United States to support the education of girls all around the world.
Our readers were energized by Malala’s bravery and wanted to know what they could do to help courageous girls like her. Educating girls is proven to grow communities and even cut out the roots of terrorism. The fact that a group of women in, say, Des Moines can send a girl to school in Pakistan is one of the most optimistic acts I can think of, and we’re proud to partner with these knowledgeable organizations to help make it possible.
--Cindi Leive, Glamour Editor-In-Chief
Girl Heroes
Image from: www.glamour.com

The Girl Project highlights the stories of these brave girls, calling them Girl Heroes. To read their stories click here. To find out more about The Girl Project click here.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

All Girls Deserve Free, Quality Education 

Malala met Amina in Nigeria this past summer and found out they have quite a bit in common. Both stood up for their education in countries where girls' education is under attack. Both girls are now advocates for girls' and children's education. And now both girls are demanding that world leaders vote for 12 years of free, quality education for all children in the world when they meet this September. In particular they are fighting for all women and girls to be educated. Far too many women are only educated through primary school. Malala and Amina know this is not enough
When we imagine the power of all our sisters standing together on the shoulders of a quality education — our joy knows no bounds.
 --Malala and Amina

Amina, Malala, and two women from the Centre for Girls' Education in Nigeria
Image from: community.malala.org 

For more information click here.

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