Powerful stories inspire the African American Authors Book Discussion Group at Stratton Library to seek enriching experiences about what they explore together.

The group attended the movie Just Mercy, which is based on Bryan Stevenson’s memoir of the true story of a man wrongly condemned for a murder he did not commit. To go deeper into it and other cases of injustice, they traveled together on a recent Saturday to Montgomery.

The visit to Montgomery included the Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice of the Equal Justice Initiative (www.eji.org). EJI is a non-profit organization founded in 1989 by Stevenson providing legal representation to prisoners without effective legal representation and individuals possibly wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit or seeking a fair trial.

The trip to Montgomery was a mix of enjoying good company and conversations along with poignant reflections on injustices of the criminal justice system, especially for those of the past and present marginalized by race and poverty. Member of the group said:

“I’m going to try to get as many others as I can to go to and witness and learn as I did.”

“It was a pleasure spending the day with each of you on Saturday. Your presence softened the heaviness and sadness my soul experienced as I once more viewed and read of African Americans and Indians’ struggles.”

“I just wanted to take a chance to tell all of you how much it means to me to be a part of this book club. I’m so grateful God brought my family here and grateful for each one of you and how much I learn from you.”

The movie based on Stevenson’s memoir features Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson and Jamie Foxx as Walter McMillian, the wrongly convicted man.

“From one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time comes an unforgettable true story about the redeeming potential of mercy. Bryan Stevenson was a gifted young attorney when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to die for a notorious murder he didn’t commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship – and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.”

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice

“More than 4400 African American men, women, and children were hanged, burned alive, shot, drowned, and beaten to death by white mobs between 1877 and 1950. Millions more fled the South as refugees from racial terrorism, profoundly impacting the entire nation. Until now, there has been no national memorial acknowledging the victims of racial terror lynchings. On a six-acre site atop a rise overlooking Montgomery, the national lynching memorial is a sacred space for truth-telling and reflection about racial terror in America and its legacy.”

The Legacy Museum

“The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration is situated on a site in Montgomery where enslaved people were once warehoused. A block from one of the most prominent slave auction spaces in America, the Legacy Museum is steps away from an Alabama dock and rail station where tens of thousands of black people were trafficked during the 19th century.”

For information on the African American Authors Book Discussion Group, call 770-528-2522.

“Just Mercy” Inspires Meaningful Visit to Montgomery by Book Discussion Group
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