September 29, 2016
DALLAS (SMU) – Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, the 2016 SMU Reads selection, will present a free lecture at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13, at McFarlin Auditorium, 6405 Boaz Lane, SMU, Dallas. Preregistration is requested at smu.edu/smureads.
Bryan Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989 in Montgomery, Alabama, as a young lawyer recently graduated from Harvard Law School. As executive director, he continues to lead a legal staff dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need, the poor and the wrongly condemned. One of his first cases was to defend Walter McMillian, who was sentenced to die for a highly publicized Alabama murder he insisted he didn’t commit. In Just Mercy, Stevenson describes how the case transformed his understanding of mercy and justice:
"The true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us," Stevenson writes. "The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned."
A New York Times best-seller and named one of the best books of 2014 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Time, The Seattle Times and Esquire, the book also won the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction. In addition, it won the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction, the Books for a Better Life Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Kirkus Prize.
SMU Reads was created to encourage reading and support literacy in the Dallas community. Under the program, members of the community read a single book carefully chosen by SMU’s Common Reading Selection Committee and supplied to entering SMU students over the summer. Community participants are then invited to take part in gatherings and events focused on the book, including a presentation by the author. These gatherings bring together members of the community, encourage critical thinking and provide opportunities for lively debate.
SMUReads partners include Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, Barnes and Noble College, Coaching for Literacy, Dallas Independent School District, DISD African American Success Initiative, Dallas Public Library, Dallas Social Venture Partners, Friends of SMU Libraries, Highland Park Library, Reading for a Reason and Well Read Women of Dallas.
Past SMU common reading books include Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman, The Devil’s Highway by Luís Alberto Urrea, Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama, Zeitoun by Dave Eggers, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, The Big Short by Michael Lewis, The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore, We Need New Names by SMU graduate NoViolet Bulaweyo and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.