Activist, Author Bryan Stevenson on Building a More Just, Merciful World

February 28, 2018
Bryan Stevenson on the PAC stage

Inspiring social justice attorney, activist, and author Bryan Stevenson ignited passions to an audience of 900 during the Critical Conversations @ Soka event at the Performing Arts Center this month.

Stevenson’s 2014 memoir Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption documents his career fighting for disadvantaged clients on death row in the US South. His talk at Soka likely changed the course of many careers, calling on the audience to take action and get up close and real with the poor, marginalized, and condemned in our society. He urged people to unearth ills at root causes to create a more just, merciful, and kind world. His calls to action included:

  • Get proximate: Don’t avoid the excluded; seek them out.
  • Change the narrative: If we can call alcoholism a disease, why not also approach drug addition as a health issue?
  • Stay hopeful: Hopelessness is the enemy of society and taking action for improvement.
  • Be willing to do uncomfortable things, such as serving broken people—because we all are broken in some way.

Second-year Soka student Arthur “Trey” Carlisle gave Stevenson an enthusiastic and moving introduction, and also invited the local and Soka community back to campus February 26 to continue the conversation and view the documentary, “Walking While Black,” after which there will be a panel discussion with the filmmakers, Carlisle, and Soka faculty Peter Burns and Sarah England.

The event at 6:30 p.m. at Pauling 216 is free and open to the public.