Equal Justice

More than 1,000 students, faculty, staff and community members came out to hear words of inspiration and hope from renowned social justice activist Bryan Stevenson. 

Stevenson spoke recently at Berry about his book, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption", which was the summer reading assignment for all new students.  

"Stevenson made many great points about what it takes to overcome  injustices we see in the world today. And even in places like Rome, there are still things we can fight for," said freshman Ben Walker. 

Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. He followed cases in which transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.  

“This is a great lesson about the importance of diversity for this incoming class” said student and First Year Mentor Britton Ody. “As our community becomes more diverse with each class that comes through Berry, the importance of community and understanding of how we all are a vital piece to the puzzle is going to make Berry and the world a better place.” 

Stevenson is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and a professor of law at New York University School of Law. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has also received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant. 

“We are judged not by how we treat rich, but how we treat ourselves, the poor and the incarcerated” said Stevenson. “We honor ourselves when we take on the afflictions of others.”


Written by Public Relations Student Assistant Alexi Bell. Photos by Photographer Sara Leimbach.