The W. Franklin Evans Honors College Critically Reviews Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy”


The W. Franklin Evans Honors College Critically Reviews Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy”

February 14, 2020

To commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s commitment and ultimate sacrifice for social justice in America and around the world, members of the Voorhees College W. Franklin Evans Honors College, viewed the critically acclaimed blockbuster movie, “Just Mercy” as a King’s Day activity.

The film viewing took place after honors students and honors council members engaged in the common reading of “Just Mercy: The Story of Justice and Redemption Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson.

The memoir describes the enduring racism and legal and political obstruction, Stevenson and Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) faced as he takes on what will become the case of his lifetime by defending Walter McMillan, an African-American sentenced to die in 1987 for the murder of an 18-year -old White girl.

Despite irrefutable evidence of McMillan’s innocence, the local Alabama court system rooted deeply in the traditions of the confederate South, refused to release McMillan.

Dr. Ronnie Hopkins, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said a common reading among the honors community is a staple activity that reinforces the message that reading is an integral part of the college experience,” Hopkins said. “I am pleased that the Honors College engages students in social justice issues and motivates them to take action.”

Karen Countz, the coordinator of the W. Franklin Evans Honors College, said she believed that the scholarly activity was perfect. “I knew the activity would greatly appeal to our students, regardless of their disciplines and career tracks,” Countz said.

Presidential Scholar, Denzel Walls, junior, business administration major from Springfield, Ga., said the book and movie are powerful. “It’s not often that something can make you feel all of your emotions, but Just Mercy does that,” Walls said.

Denise Freeman, a junior biology major from Monrovia, Liberia, said she agrees with Walls. “Individuals were wrongly blamed and mistreated because they were black. There was a lack of compassion in the justice system,” Freeman said.

Calvin Coach, a junior sports management major from New Ellenton, S.C., said he enjoyed every aspect of the movie. “It was especially important to me because my family can relate to what the families went through having someone in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.” Coach said.

Alasia Duncan, junior, accounting major from Charleston, S.C., said the movie was a great experience to see what people of color went through back then, and even in the present. “The book gave me a better picture and detailed information about the problems in the criminal justice system today,” Duncan said.