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'Just Mercy' Selected as ASU Common Reader Initiative

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Release Date: Jul 29, 2016

ASU's Class of 2020 will receive copies of Bryan Stevenson's powerful book, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption," as part of the 2016 Campus Common Reader Initiative.

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Alabama State University's newest students, the Class of 2020, each will receive copies of Bryan Stevenson's powerful book, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption," as part of ASU's 2016 Campus Common Reader Initiative.

Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to indigent defendants and prisoners denied fair and just treatment in the legal system, is a Harvard Law School graduate and New York Times bestselling author. He is one of the nation's leading voices for criminal justice reform. 

The book, a memoir of Stevenson's early work as a young lawyer representing poor clients in the South, centers on the story of Walter MacMillian, a black man from Monroeville, Ala., who was falsely accused, convicted and sentenced to death row in 1987 for the murder of a white woman. Stevenson took on MacMillian's case post-conviction and through meticulous investigation and a series of lengthy appeals, successfully proved that MacMillian's conviction for capital murder and resulting death sentence was wrongly obtained due to police coercion and perjury. Stevenson's efforts led to MacMillian's full exoneration and to the overturning of his wrongful conviction.

ASU, one of dozens of major institutions across the nation that have adopted "Just Mercy" as part of campuswide reading initiatives, is uniquely positioned to engage students in meaningful dialogue about issues of justice. The University has a storied history as a leading force in the Civil Rights Movement, and the ASU campus is located just blocks from Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative offices in Montgomery, Ala. In fact, Stevenson visited ASU in November of 2015, delivering a talk to students about his book and about the steps to championing justice. 

Stevenson to Speak during Aug. 30 Freshman Convocation

Photo Credit: Nina Subin

Just as ASU students kick off the Fall 2016 semester and the campus community immerses itself in the common reading of "Just Mercy," Stevenson will visit the campus as the featured speaker for the University's annual Freshman Convocation on August 30.

Stevenson's appearance is one of many planned special events surrounding the Campus Common Reader Initiative. Activities will be held monthly, involving students, faculty, staff and alumni in important discussions and creative expressions surrounding the book.    

About the Campus Common Reader Initiative

Bryan Stevenson’s book, "Just Mercy," is a read all for the new Hornets at Alabama State University. The University College Orientation Program’s Freshmen Experience Course will engage students in the Class of 2020 through a variety of activities with "Just Mercy." This book will be read, discussed and used throughout the academic year for freshman students, developing students’ critical thinking skills related to social justice in American society. 

Brown bag luncheons, dramatization activities, panel discussions and writings to include poems, essays and other forms of expression will engage students through one of America’s most stimulating and engaging topics, social justice for African-Americans. One of the critical thinking activities for students in the Freshmen Experience Course is the Legacy Readers’ activity. Orientation Coordinator, Margie Campbell, states that ASU faculty members provide written selections from their personal experiences that new students will read and discuss during class. Faculty reflections on Stevenson’s book will be included in this activity.

"ASU's newest Hornets will continue activities in many of the University College courses, programs and offerings to develop a sense of community and family at ASU centered on this publication," said Dr. Evelyn A. Hodge, Dean of University College.

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