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Home » Riveting, Captivating and Shockingly Honest Talk Given by Bryan Stevenson: The Cry for Justice

Riveting, Captivating and Shockingly Honest Talk Given by Bryan Stevenson: The Cry for Justice

LISTEN NOW! Of all the worship that is offered up to God, the book of Amos reveals that it is justice that God desires to receive. “But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream”– Amos 5:24. As we seek the understanding of what it means to desire this justice, as well as the cry of the acts of injustice, we get a profound visualization of what this looks like when we look at a recent presentation by Bryan Stevenson at a TED talk. Bryan Stevenson is the Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama and a powerful voice for the voiceless. 

Stevenson shares about his own experiences from the many encounters he has had with those that many would not pay attention to. “I spend most of my time in very low-income communities in the projects and places where there’s a great deal of hopelessness.” As Stevenson shares how he grew up, in his own words; “in a traditional African American household”, it was the words of his grandmother that still have a lasting effect on him as a man nearly 50 years later. It was these words that shaped the man who he is today. Because of the actions and choices in his life, because of the words his grandmother shared with him as a young boy, Stevenson shares that an identity is shaped and power that comes with the choices and lives that we live. “When we create the right kind of identity, we can say things to the world around us that they don’t actually believe makes sense. We can get them to do things that they don’t think they can do.”
With the experiences and people that Stevenson has encountered in his life and career, he has come face to face with some staggering realities within America that reveal the realities of injustice in America. Some of these are:
-One out of three black men between the ages of 18 and 30 is in jail, in prison, on probation or parole.
-The United States is the only country in the world where we sentence 13 year old children to die in prison. 
-We have life imprisonment without parole for kids in this country.

-50-60% of all young men of color are in jail or prison or on probation or parole.


-In the states of the Old South, we execute people – where you’re 11 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is white than if the victim is black, 22 times more likely to get it if the defendant is black and the victim is white.
Stevenson describes much of these truths that take place and the apparent “disconnect” that is taking place. As Stevenson shares with his students about the history of the African Americans, it encompasses slavery. He gives an empathetic understanding of what it must have been like, “that was an era defined by terror. In many communities, people had to worry about being lynched. They had to worry about being bombed. It was the threat of terror that shaped their lives.” For the present day America, most are familiar with the daily threat of terrorism and looming pressures of possibilities of terrorism affecting someone’s life.
Stevenson continues to share about the impact of these encounters and how our ideas can bring change. He also recounts an experience of being able to simply listen to a conversation with Rosa Parks and friends as they gathered and shared with one another. Stevenson gets it. He understands a life lived out to be a voice for the voiceless. As the Church, we are called to be those that are known by our love and those who cry out for justice. Be deeply impacted and encouraged as you listen and hear the full discussion, and so much more. Greg and John shared in this segment.

Some of the additional things he talked about:
 “The opposite of poverty is justice. Germany can’t have the death penalty because of their history. Could you imagine if they did and it was disproportionately Jews that were receiving it?”

“We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes. And yet, we seem to be very comfortable. The politics of fear and anger have made us believe that these are problems that are not our problems. We’ve been disconnected.”

“My state of Alabama, like a number of states, actually permanently disenfranchises you if you have a criminal conviction. Right now in Alabama 34% of the black male population has permanently lost the right to vote. We’re actually projecting in another 10 years the level of disenfranchisement will be as high as it’s been since prior to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. And there is this stunning silence.”

“We have a hard time talking about race, and I believe it’s because we are unwilling to commit ourselves to a process of truth and reconciliation.”

“There is no disconnect around technology and design that will allow us to be fully human until we pay attention to suffering, to poverty, to exclusion, to unfairness, to injustice.”

“…ultimately, our humanity depends on everyone’s humanity”

screen capture from



Bryan Stevenson: We Need to Talk about an Injustice
this post was edited/added to on 5/29/2015

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