Bryan Stevenson Quotes
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You ultimately judge the civility of a society not by how it treats the rich, the powerful, the protected and the highly esteemed, but by how it treats the poor, the disfavored and the disadvantaged.
We have a system of justice in [the US] that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.
You don’t change the world with the ideas in your mind, but with the conviction in your heart.
Somebody has to stand when other people are sitting. Somebody has to speak when other people are quiet.
The opposite of poverty is not wealth. I don't believe that. I actually think, in too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.
The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
Each of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done.
We live in a country that talks about being the home of the brave and the land of the free, and we have the highest incarceration rate in the world.
I don't think there's been a time in American history with more innocent people in prison.
Always do the right thing even when the right thing is the hard thing
We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent.
We've all been acculturated into accepting the inevitability of wrongful convictions, unfair sentences, racial bias, and racial disparities and discrimination against the poor.
Whenever society begins to create policies and laws rooted in fear and anger, there will be abuse and injustice.
We all have a responsibility to create a just society
But simply punishing the broken--walking away from them or hiding them from sight--only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.
You can't demand truth and reconciliation. You have to demand truth - people have to hear it, and then they have to want to reconcile themselves to that truth.
It's that mind-heart connection that I believe compels us to not just be attentive to all the bright and dazzling things but also the dark and difficult things.
If you're just the person with power, exercising that power fearfully and angrily, you're going to be an operative of injustice and inequality.
Lynching is an important aspect of racial history and racial inequality in America, because it was visible, it was so public, it was so dramatic, and it was so violent.
The reality is that capital punishment in America is a lottery. It is a punishment that is shaped by the constraints of poverty, race, geography and local politics.
If you love your community, then you need to be insisting on justice in all circumstances.
Why do we want to kill all the broken people?
I think hopelessness is the enemy of justice.
The death penalty symbolizes whom we fear and don't fear, whom we care about and whose lives are not valid.
All of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone.
Knowing what I know about the people who have come before me, and the people who came before them, and what they had to do, it changes my capacity to stay engaged, to stay productive.
Many states can no longer afford to support public education, public benefits, public services without doing something about the exorbitant costs that mass incarceration have created.
My parents, who grew up in terror and dealt with segregation and humiliation, nonetheless taught us to be hopeful and open and loving and not hateful toward anyone.
You can be a career professional as a judge, a prosecutor, sometimes as a defense attorney, and never insist on fairness and justice. That's tragic and that's what we have to change.
I have to get comfortable with resistance, and even sometimes with hostility.
Finally I got to the point where I said, I'd like to start a project where we can actually talk about race and poverty, not through the lens of a particular case, but much more broadly.
Because my great-grandparents were enslaved people, the legacy of slavery was something that didn't seem impersonal or disconnected. That's what motivated me to get into law.
It can be a challenge, but my legacy, at least for the people who came before me, is you don't run from challenges because that's more comfortable and convenient.
My parents lived in a poor rural community on the Eastern Shore, and schools were still segregated. And I remember when lawyers came into our community to open up the public schools to black kids.
That's what's provocative to me - that we can victimize people, we can torture and traumatize people with no consciousness that it is a shameful thing to do.
Are you the sum total of your worst acts?
If you love your country, then you need to be thinking a lot more critically about what justice.
I say this thing about how I've never had to say my head is bloodied but not bowed, like everybody who came before me had to say. And that tells me that I can do a lot more than I think I can.
I'm persuaded that if most people saw what I see on a regular basis, they would want change.
Montgomery's unique role in the domestic slave trade was that it was the first community that had a rail line that connected the Deep South to the mid-Atlantic region.
In a landscape littered with all of this imagery about the nobility of the Civil War and the Confederate effort and struggle, the absence of markers says something really powerful.
I love museums, and I think they're fantastic, but they don't touch the people who I frequently think need to be touched with at least some reminder of legacy.
There were people in the South who were ardently opposed to slavery. And maybe, if we get into truth and reconciliation, those will be the people we want to name schools and streets after.
America's prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill.
Fear and anger are a threat to justice. They can infect a community, a state, or a nation, and make us blind, irrational, and dangerous.
Embracing our brokenness creates a need and a desire for mercy and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy.
Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.
[N]o lie can live forever...