Bryan Stevenson and national values
“One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” - Closing lines of the United States Pledge of Allegiance
The Hollywood film adaptation of Milton native and Cape High graduate Bryan Stevenson’s best-selling book, “Just Mercy,” goes into wide release at movie theaters across the nation on this date. The film portrays the author’s efforts as a lawyer to address institutional injustices, which in their worst form lead to innocent people, unable to afford adequate legal representation, being sentenced to death for crimes they didn’t commit.
“Just Mercy,” the film, is the latest and most prominent confirmation of the lifetime work undertaken by Stevenson on behalf of not only his many clients but also some of this nation’s core principles. From the standpoint of regional pride, it’s gratifying, and humbling, to know that Stevenson started his important journey in this community, that some of the earliest screenings of the film took place in our own Movies at Midway theaters where his father worked for two decades, and that at its first local screening – which Stevenson attended – the theater was packed with friends and family. “It’s incredibly affirming to have folks from my home community supporting the work I do now,” he said at the screening, according to Cape Gazette movie reviewer Rob Rector.
Stevenson’s book and the film now being released offer readers and viewers plenty of opportunity to gain greater familiarity with a local person whose selfless efforts in pursuit of justice have gained him a glowing international reputation.
Those who want an even more intimate look at Stevenson’s formative years can take advantage of the most ambitious thematic exhibition ever launched by the Milton Historical Society. The exhibit, titled Walking Into Greatness: Bryan Stevenson, will be open to the public at the Lydia Black Cannon Museum, 210 Union St. in downtown Milton, through Friday, Feb. 28.
Bryan Stevenson’s successes, still in progress, can’t help but fuel – with a dash of idealism – a sense of optimism that the work of advancing generations can better align us with our nation’s core values of justice and mercy.