After hearing Stevenson speak at the Global Leadership Summit and being moved to tears, I knew I needed to pick up his book, and it does not disappoint.
Stevenson starts by telling his own story of becoming a lawyer and the events that prompted him to found the Equal Justice Initiative – an organization that provides legal counsel and advocates for those living on society’s margins, the poor, the wrongly convicted, and women & children who didn’t necessarily deserve the convictions they received.
He paints a bleak picture of the injustice (and sometimes corruption) in the American legal system that has led to overflowing prisons at alarming rates. It is by no means a boring legal text, as he layers in several stories of cases that have shaped his life and career. Most prominently is the case of Walter McMillian, a young man who was convicted of a brutal murder, but insisted that he was innocent. Stevenson draws you into this story, detailing how this conviction came to be, the corruption and racism involved, and the dramatic undertaking it was to fight it. I was equal parts heartbroken for McMillian, and enraged on his behalf.
This book reads as a courtroom drama – like a modern day, real life To Kill A Mockingbird… but all the more sobering because the stories are true. It’s eye-opening and inspiring, coming from someone who is working the front lines in these cases and who has become a global advocate for justice.
I can’t recommend this enough – it’s an emotional read, but one that everyone should experience.