Black History Month ends in just a few days, so this week’s installment of TED Talks Tuesday is one of the most elegant examinations of race in America ever given on the TED stage. Human Rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson’s moving talk from TED 2012 paints a hard picture of America’s criminal justice framework – but he does more than illustrate the obvious problems with our current system. Stevenson urges people to become more aware of what he calls “the dark and difficult things” in today’s society, and argues that history judges societies by how they treat their most disenfranchised populations. It goes beyond the political, and moves into the realms of morality and cultural self-awareness with a grace, courage and compassion many lack when discussing some of the heaviest issues challenging today’s landscape. This stirring, inspiring and frank talk is full of insight and refreshing clarity, and is simply a must-watch. In Stevenson’s own words, “Ultimately, our humanity depends on everyone’s humanity.”
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Spiegel & Grau, August 2015)
This highly awarded nonfiction account concerns one of Stevenson’s early cases at the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice he founded early in his career to defend people in desperate economic and legal circumstances. It’s the story of Stevenson’s journey defending a man sentenced to die for a murder he claimed to be innocent of committing. It’ll redefine the way you view justice, mercy and compassion.