BRYAN STEVENSON is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University School of Law. He has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color. He has received numerous awards, including the MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant.
I'm not a lawyer. I've never been an activist to fight injustice. I've lived a "safe" life. This talk was for me.
1. We must get proximate to the people we are trying to serve.
- Am I willing to write about injustice, but stay physically distant?
- How do the people I'm leading know that I'm with them? How do I practice "presence" with the people I say I care about?
- Am I thinking I have to know what to do
2. We must change the narratives that sustain the way we think.
- How have I been affected by fear and anger in ways that keep me from helping?
- In what ways have I accepted the rationalizations that
3. We must remain hopeful.
- Am I hopeful about the condition of our world, that change can come, that I can be part of it?
- Am I inclined to talk about that "one time" when I acted... or am I actively engaged?
4. We must choose to do things that are uncomfortable.
- Have I given myself to making life as comfortable as possible?
- Have I accepted a mindset that the areas of discomfort are areas of comfort for someone else?
The humans that Bryan has given his life to serve... are broken. And so is the system, the leadership.
And so are we. So am I.
I must be vulnerable enough to connect my own brokenness to those who are broken around me. It is not sufficient, nor most helpful, for people who are broken to hear me teach, train, preach, lead like I'm not broken too.
I must continue to lean into the brokenness that is my story. I must be connected to the brokenness in others... through my brokenness.
What are you willing to do, how are you willing to change for the sake of justice?