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  • Justin Starnes

Just Mercy - Review

Today I watched the movie, Just Mercy, it's also a New York Times bestselling novel that was written by Bryan Stevenson. Just Mercy tells the true story of Walter McMillian (played by Jamie Foxx), an African-American death row inmate falsely convicted of murder. Bryan Stevenson, an African-American fresh out of Harvard Law School (played by Michael B. Jordan), was committed and motivated to help death row inmates receive a fair trial. In 1989, Bryan opened the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a non-profit organization based in Montgomery, Alabama. The firm would "work to end mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and racial inequality" (EJI). Equal Justice Initiative is still around today with the same goal of bringing the CORRECT sort of justice the Constitution promises ALL of America's citizens. Bryan ends up representing Walter and together they work hard to get Walter a fair retrial. After many obstacles, Bryan and Walter end up receiving the retrial and Walter is finally proven innocent.

Just Mercy, dives deep into the segregated culture of the South. Segregation between the white and black population has been around for centuries. Many white people believed, and some still believe today, that they were superior to the black community because of skin color. In the past, Europeans were the most technologically advanced and they used this against other populations to show how superior they were. They did this to the natives by pushing them out of America and eventually they did this to Africa by kidnapping innocent Africans and bringing them to America as slaves. In an interview between James McWilliams and Bryan Stevenson, Stevenson said, "You can't understand many of the most destructive issues or policies in our country without understanding our history of racial inequality. And I actually think it begins with our interaction with native people, because we took land, we killed people, we disrupted a culture. We were brutal. And we justified and rationalized that land grab, that genocide, by characterizing native people as different. It was the first way in which this narrative of racial difference was employed to justify behaviors that would otherwise be unjustifiable" (Stevenson). Later in the interview he provides a powerful insight about the kidnapping of the African people: "Some people have been kidnapped for days and weeks, and that sense of trauma never goes away. And I thought about what it was to be displaced, pulled from from their land, and then brutalized and tortured and chained" (Stevenson). As you can see, white supremacy has been a mindset and a concept before America even had a president. The constitution reads that everyone should be treated equally and America went through 16 presidents before the enslavement of African Americans was outlawed nationally. News flash: racism wouldn't end just because slavery was illegal.

"You can't understand the many of the most destructive issues or polices in our country without understanding our history of racial inequality"

- Bryan Stevenson

Through 1877 until the Civil Rights Movement in the '50s and '60s, the Jim Crow laws were in full effect. The Jim Crow laws were any laws that enforced segregation in-between this time period. For example, colored and white bathrooms, water fountains, and schools were all placed to keep the black people away from the white people. This is where you begin to see America's justice system become even more corrupt.


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