Bryan Stevenson speaks at the Richmond Forum

Midlo students attend a Bryan Stevenson Seminar


Photo by: Flickr

Bryan Stevenson spoke at The Richmond Forum on Saturday, March 20, 2021.

On Saturday, March 20, 2021, Midlothian High School students, along with other students in the Richmond area, had the opportunity to listen to Bryan Stevenson speak. Stevenson, a lawyer, criminal justice activist and author of Just Mercy spoke of his life experiences. From growing up during segregation to arguing cases in front of the Supreme Court, Stevenson has been on both ends of racism and justice. 

The Richmond Forum sponsored the event and Midlo was given twenty tickets for students to attend. Librarian Heather Murfee facilitated Midlo students going to the seminar. Murfee learned that Stevenson was coming to the Richmond Forum through the forum’s Director of Student Programs, Ms. Sandra Wheeler.

At 7:00 p.m. the event doors opened, and participants entered the forum. At 7:30 Andrew Alli and Josh Small entertained the audience with Blues music. In another room, the student session was filled with middle and high school students from around the state. Students asked questions pertaining to Stevenson’s work and what they could do to make an impact. Junior Paige Dudley decided to attend because she “hoped to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the justice system by listening to a lawyer who works with those most affected.” 

Throughout his life, Stevenson has faced discrimination first-hand. Born near the height of the civil rights era, he witnessed the unfair treatment of African Americans. Stevenson used this as fuel to power him through his legal career. As a leader in the movement against mass incarceration, Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative in 1989. Stevenson also founded the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. The museum is the first national memorial to victims of white supremacy. Stevenson shared anecdotes with the audience of artifacts that have made their way into the museums. These stories left the audience with a deeper understanding of the cruel and inhumane treatment African Americans have been through.

Currently, Stevenson represents death row inmates who have been wrongfully sentenced to death in. Just Mercy, a legal drama that hit theaters on December 25, 2019, follows the life of Stevenson,  played by Micheal B. Jordan, after his graduation from Harvard Law School. The film depicts the work, time, and dedication he put into getting Walter McMillian released from prison. His extensive resume speaks volumes about the dedication he put into the criminal justice system in hopes of making America more just create.

 Murfee worked with Ms. Regina Warriner, Ms. Kismiya Sapp, and Ms. Loretta Speller, and others in the Midlothian High School’s Equity Committee to “bring this opportunity to the students at Midlothian High School.”  Ms. Elizabeth Boese donated thirty “A History of Racial Injustice” calendars to the library. Students are able to pick up these calendars while supplies last. To learn more about Stevenson and his life’s work, visit here