Bryan Stevenson to Kick off "Williams Reads" Sept. 14

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., August 25, 2017—Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, will speak at Williams College about his book Just Mercy on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall. Just Mercy is the Williams Reads selection for 2017. The title of his talk is “American Injustice: Mercy, Humanity, and Making a Difference.” The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are not required

Williams Reads aims to foster new connections among students, staff, faculty, and community members by exploring diversity through a common reading experience. Developed by the Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC), Williams Reads is an initiative offered as an opportunity for the college and community to explore a book together that will help celebrate and deepen an appreciation of diversity. It is a goal of the CDC to select a book that will stimulate community engagement and challenging conversation.

Just Mercy, a New York Times bestseller, has received a bevy of accolades, including being named the Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Esquire and Time. It explores notions of compassion, justice, and mercy through Stevenson’s career within the context of the criminal justice system.

Stevenson, a public interest lawyer whose work centers on issues of bias against the poor and people of color, works tirelessly in his career to mitigate these issues. He is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization that has already won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating over 115 innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Stevenson has argued numerous times before the Supreme Court, and recently championed a ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.

Stevenson received a B.A. (1981) from Eastern College, an M.P.P. (1985) from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and a J.D. (1985) from Harvard University. He served previously as a staff attorney at the Southern Center for Human Rights (1985-1989) and as executive director of the Alabama Capital Representation Resource Center (1989-1995). In 1995, he received the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, placing him in a long lineage of thinkers and scholars who go on to do groundbreaking work in their respective fields. Stevenson has received over 25 honorary degrees, including one from Williams in 2016, and is a professor of law at New York University.

This event is the first in a series sponsored by Williams Reads, the W. Ford Schumann ’50 Program in Democratic Studies, and the Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information, visit the website at


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at