Bryan Stevenson on how America can heal

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Monday, July 27, 2020

What would it take for America to heal? To be the country it claims to be?

This is the question that animates Bryan Stevenson’s career. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a clinical professor at the New York University School of Law, a MacArthur “genius,” and the author of the remarkable book Just Mercy — which was recently turned into a feature film where Stevenson was played by Michael B. Jordan.

I admire Stevenson tremendously. He has lived a life dedicated to justice — justice for individuals (some of whom he has rescued from death row) and justice for the society he lives in. He’s one of the fairly few people I’ve found with a vision for how America could find justice on the far shore of its own history. That vision is particularly needed now and so I asked him to return to The Ezra Klein Show to share it. To my delight, he agreed.

This conversation is about truth and reconciliation in America — and about whether truth would actually lead to reconciliation in America. It’s about what the process of reckoning with our past sins and present wounds would look and feel and sound like. It’s about what we can learn from countries like Germany and South Africa, that have walked further down this path than we have. And it’s about the country and community that could lie on the other side of that confrontation.

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