2019-20 Selection Announcement: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Selection: 
Just Mercy

The Common Reading Program at Appalachian State University announces its 2019-20 book selection — Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson.

Just Mercy details the injustices of a broken criminal justice system that punishes poor people, and Stevenson’s work to improve that system.

Bryan Stevenson is a graduate of Harvard Law School and founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama.  Stevenson has dedicated his career as a public interest lawyer to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.  The Equal Justice Initiative has exonerated innocent death row prisoners, won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, aided children prosecuted as adults, and opposed the abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill. Stevenson successfully argued in the U.S. Supreme Court that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.  

Most recently, with the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson founded the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also known as the Lynching Memorial, in Montgomery, Alabama.

Stevenson will give a public talk, followed by a book signing, starting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019 at (Location TBA).  The event will be free and open to the public. 

“The Common Reading Committee selected Just Mercy for its relevance to a wide range of academic disciplines and because Stevenson’s work has had a profound impact on our society,” said Common Reading Program Director Dr. Martha McCaughey. 

For 22 years, Appalachian’s Common Reading Program Committee has selected a book for incoming first-year students to read together in order to jump-start intellectual engagement both inside and outside the classroom.  All incoming new students will receive a copy of Just Mercy when they come to campus for Summer Orientation and will discuss the book during Welcome Weekend in August.  Students will remain engaged with the book and its themes throughout the academic year, in their First Year Seminars and at co-curruicular events throughout the year, such as faculty panel discussions being organized by the Department of Government and Justice Studies and the Department of Sociology

The University Bookstore will be selling copies of Just Mercy throughout the year as well as at the event on Sept. 17, where Stevenson will sign copies following his presentation.

To learn more about Just Mercy, including information about the campus visit by Bryan Stevenson, Welcome Weekend book discussions, and other events, go to our website at commonreading.appstate.edu.

University faculty members who wish to lead a 75-minute discussion with new students during Welcome Weekend on Saturday, Aug. 17 about the book and about what to expect in college classes, should contact Clinton Marsh, Assistant Director of Orientation, at marshrc@appstate.edu or Martha McCaughey at mccaugheym@appstate.edu by May 1, 2019.