Covering Jewish Life in Orange County
Justice for All

TVT Speakers Series begins with judicial activist Bryan Stevenson

TVT Community Day School in Irvine is launching the 2016-2017 speakers series that will feature “leading experts that promote our values of truth, kindness, respect, repairing the world, justice and community,” according to Dr. Jeffrey Davis, TVT head of school.

He added, “The series explores the past, present and future perspectives to bridge multigenerational understanding within our community.”

Leading off the series is Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Montgomery, Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative, on Wednesday, August 24, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Stevenson will be available to sign his book, Just Mercy, after the talk.

“Mr. Stevenson is one of the most acclaimed and respected social justice lawyers in the nation,” said Dr. Davis.  “He has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned.”

Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned and those trapped in the furthest reaches of the U.S. criminal justice system, asserts that the opposite of poverty is justice. The organization has won legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults.  EJI recently won an historic ruling in the U.S. Supreme Court holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.

As a result of Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, he has won him numerous awards.  A graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government and the recipient of 22 honorary doctorate degrees, he was named to the Time 100 recognizing the world’s most influential people in 2015. Recently, he was named in Fortune’s 2016 World’s Greatest Leaders list.

Just Mercy is Stevenson’s memoir of a young lawyer fighting to defend Walter McMillian, a young man sentenced to die for a notorious murder he did not commit. The case drew Stevenson into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination and legal brinksmanship – and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. The book, a New York Times best-seller, “is as gripping as it is disturbing,” wrote Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu, “as if America’s soul has been put on trial.”

Stevenson received the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence and an NAACP Image Award for Just Mercy, which New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof called “searing” and “moving.” Just Mercy is the 2015 recipient of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction. It has been named a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, TIME Magazine Top 10 Nonfiction Book of 2014, Esquire Top 5 Most Important Books of 2014, Washington Post Notable Work of Nonfiction and an American Library Association Notable Book. A finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize and Kirkus Reviews Prize, Just Mercy is also one of the Boston Globe Best Books of the Year and the Seattle Times Best Books of the Year.

The event will include a VIP reception from 6 to 7 p.m., the program with questions and answers from 7 to 8 p.m. and the book signing from 8 to 8:30 p.m. General-admission tickets are $18 for the event or $36 for the series, which also includes a program featuring Deborah E. Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, on March 16. For the VIP reception and ticket, the cost is $36 per event or $72 for the series. The book, Just Mercy, is $20.

To reserve tickets for the program or the series, visit www.tarbut.com/tickets or contact vgladstone@tarbut.com.

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