Just Mercy: A LHS Project Lit February feature


Photo by Isabel Vasbinder.

Isabel Vasbinder, Staff Reporter

For the month of February, Liberty’s Project Lit student book club has decided to feature the true story of Bryan Stevenson.

 Bryan Stevenson was a criminal justice lawyer in Alabama who worked endlessly with clients who have been accused of a crime, and who were either sentenced to life in prison, or worse, death.

February is known as Black History Month, and because of this, Project Lit has decided to feature this true story of the fight for justice. 

¨Just Mercy¨ is a true adaptation of the number one New York best-seller ¨Just Mercy: A story of Justice and Redemption.¨  

The story follows the work of Bryan Stevenson, a criminal justice lawyer who works with clients located in Alabama that have been accused of committing a serious crime which resulted in either death sentences, or life without parole. 

This work shows the amount of effort that Bryan Stevenson puts in to help his clients fight for what they deserve, which is freedom from the terrible life on death row. 

Bryan Stevenson was born on November 14th, 1959. He attended the New York University School of Law, and he was also the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, which was primarily based in Montgomery, Alabama. He was also known for challenging the biases against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system.

He has even worked with cases dealing with children who have been sentenced to life imprisonment or death. He was also known for helping achieve US Supreme Court decisions that led to the prohibition of sentencing children that were 18 years old and younger to death or life imprisonment without parole. 

Most of this story follows one particular client. Walter McMillan was a black man in Alabama that was wrongly accused of the murder of Ronda Morrison, who had been at the same location that Walter was accused of being at during the time of the murder. 

With the help of Mr. Stevenson, Walter was able to get trials and hearings set into place to challenge the court’s rulings. Unfortunately for Walter, he was still the main suspect of the murder. 

As the time and the years progressed, Mr. Stevenson continued to work on Walter’s case and was still determined to declare Walter a free man.

 Several more trials and hearings later, justice had been served for Walter.

After spending six years on death row, Walter was finally proven innocent and was declared a free man, 

Not only did Mr. Stevenson carry on the challenges faced with Walter McMillan’s case, he also dealt with several other cases as well. He became very popular in Alabama, and people all over the state wanted him to work on their own personal cases. 

English Teacher and Project Lit sponsor, Mrs. Jeanne Converse, says that ¨Just Mercy¨ was chosen to credit this amazing story. 

“We picked this book to honor Bryan Stevenson as a black lawyer and author for Black History Month,” said Converse. 

Mrs. Converse also said that ¨Just Mercy¨ also has one very important lesson that students can learn from. 

“One of the most impactful lessons in this book is that there is always a bigger picture when a tragedy occurs,” said Converse.  “I think students should read this book because it is eye-opening and it draws attention to injustices across the country and it challenges us to do better for ourselves and our community.¨

Converse also stated what she liked the most about this book is how Mr. Stevenson writes about his clients and their stories. 

“The thing that I like the most about this book is that Mr. Stevenson writes in a way that the reader gets to know his clients as people, and not just another inmate in jail,” said Converse.

LHS Project Lit was supposed to have a meeting being held in the library during SOAR on Wednesday, February 22, 2023; however, the meeting will now be taking place approximately mid-March. 

There will be a movie based on the book that will be playing in Mrs. Converse’s room, 105, during SOAR. The movie will be played approximately three times during SOAR occurring one week in March. 

For further information or to pick up a copy of the book, please visit Ms. Corbin located in the library.

For the month of March, the featured category will be any sports book.