Student Summer Reading: “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson

June, 14, 2017

just mercyThis year Saint Mary’s College High School students and faculty are proud to participate in the One Book, One District initiative from our District of San Francisco New Orleans.  For the 2017-2018 school year we will heed the call of our Lasallian heritage to attend to the needs of the incarcerated.  We will join the discussion of Bryan Stevenson’s book with our district’s Lasallians Without Borders Committee and other high schools adopting the OBOD initiative.

A departure from previous years when each grade level read different books, this year everyone from incoming freshmen to rising seniors will read Bryan Stevenson’s noted book Just Mercy.

“Bryan 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. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.” (The Book)

Students should expect to make connections with the themes of the book in all of their classes next year. In addition, Peace and Justice themes will relate to the issues that Stevenson highlights. The Book Club will be promoting a Book Drive for prisoners through the Prisoners Literature Project, and the library plans to host a roundtable discussion each trimester to give parents, students and faculty the opportunity to discuss the text in a multiple faculty mixed-grade environment.

We are encouraging all Saint Mary’s parents to read Just Mercy with our students to discuss the moral and legal issues that Bryan Stevenson so deftly describes. Come join the discussion!

Additional Resources for “Just Mercy”

Just Mercy Official Website

60 Minutes story on Walter McMillian

NPR Interview of Bryan Stevenson

Interview of Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson TED Talk

New York Times Book Review

Equal Justice Initiative

Book Award Acceptance Speech

Teacher’s Guide

Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions

Resources on the Death Penalty

History of the Death Penalty

Famous pro & con arguments