Season 2, Ep.5: Fighting for Justice with Bryan Stevenson

Is justice really possible? How can we reckon with truth when people disagree about what’s true? We can’t think of a better person to answer these big questions than attorney, author, and Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson. He shares more of his background—as depicted in the recent film adaptation of his book, Just Mercy—and describes how he’s reframing the fight for civil rights as an ongoing story, not a closed chapter. Part of this work is The Legacy Museum and National Memorial in Montgomery, reflecting America’s history of slavery, lynching, and segregation. As Bryan says, we need more places that tell the truth, because that’s the only way to overcome the narratives that have defined inequality. Plus: How he’s staying energized during the pandemic, why you WILL be voting this November, and how his great-grandfather passed down a love of learning.

Twitter: @eji_org | IG: @eji_org

Learn

Watch | Adapted from Bryan’s bestselling book of the same name, Just Mercy tells the powerful, true story of Bryan Stevenson’s early days as a lawyer and his history making fight for justice. Don’t forget to download the discussion guide. too!

Watch | Bryan Stevenson in conversation with John Lewis at the TED Legacy Project, sharing how they’ve fought for civil rights and words of wisdom for the next generation.

Education | Check out Equal Justice Initiative’s resources on public education to learn more about the history of racial injustice in America.

Act

Donate | Support Equal Justice Initiative in their fight to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment by making a donation.

Visit | The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama.

Sign | Add your name to support We Dream in Black, a community of Black women building power and fighting for a new future for Black domestic workers that challenges the legacies of racial discrimination, Jim Crow, and slavery in domestic work.

Vote

Participants vote! Head over to Participant Media to find everything you need to register, check your voter status, and request a ballot. Then, check out one of their films illustrating why preserving the right to vote is necessary for ensuring equity.

Transcript

Alicia Garza:

Welcome to Sunstorm, where we get real about what’s happening in the world and what we’re doing about it. Because we are the light in the storm. Hi, I’m Alicia Garza.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

And I’m Ai-jen Poo. And we have such a treat for you today. One of the smartest, most wonderful people we know in the world is joining us on Sunstorm.

 

Alicia Garza:

He’s the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. He is central to the fight to reform the criminal system. He’s a law professor at NYU. He’s the bestselling author of Just Mercy, which is now a film by our partners, Participant. And he is also our friend. Please, please, please give a warm Sunstorm welcome to Bryan Stevenson.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

Well, I just have to say you are two of my favorite people in the world, and it’s just a thrill to have this chance to talk.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

This has been a really heavy time for a lot of us. And as someone who confronts life and death issues every day, what’s been keeping you going.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

It has been challenging. I think if someone had told me, “You’re going to have six months with no travel, you won’t be on the plane. You’ll be in your bed every night.” I would’ve thought, “Oh man, that sounds amazing.” And for me, it’s been great to be in Montgomery, I go out a little bit more now. And I walk around and I think about the people who came before me in this community.

I’ve always known that I’m standing on the shoulders of people who did so much more with so much less. We put together an exhibit on the Montgomery Bus Boycott right before the pandemic hit. And we haven’t really been able to share it with anybody. And reading about these women and men who were participating in the boycott, 104 of them were indicted because they refused to ride the buses.

And I was reading the stories about how, when the indictments were announced, people ran to the courthouse joyously, and there were people who were showing up and they didn’t see their name on the indictment list and they were disappointed and that kind of enthusiasm and that kind of spirit, and that kind of commitment has really kept me energized in this time of uncertainty, because they really were facing uncertainty. No one had actually organized that kind of mass protest against a structure and system this resistant to change.

And they were coming out of the era of lynching where people were actually killed and menaced and terrorized for this kind of activism. So I’ve been really just trying to embrace that spirit in this moment and it’s kept me energized and it’s kept me encouraged. And it makes me hopeful about what we will yield from all of this difficulty? What will come from all of this? We all know justice is a constant struggle and we are struggling right now, but we know that when we struggle, justice waits for us and release waits for us. And I’m excited by that.

 

Alicia Garza:

First of all, I need to see this exhibit. When you said that I was like, “Oh my God, I’m missing out.” I recently had the opportunity, also before the pandemic, to come and visit The Legacy Museum and The National Memorial. And there are so many really moving and fantastic things about these monuments to truth and it is-

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Transformative.

 

Alicia Garza:

… awe-inspiring, and it’s also deeply, deeply painful. And I’m wondering, Bryan, we’re in this moment, I think, of another wave of potential national reckoning. So I’m wondering if you can talk a little bit about where those entities come from and what inspired you to really move on these projects that are so seminal.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

Yeah. Well, first of all, thank you for coming. Had I known you were here, we would have had a parade. We would have done something big to celebrate your presence with us.

 

Alicia Garza:

I’ll be back, you know what I’m saying? I’ll be back.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

Exactly. That’s right. But I do think there are too few places in America that tell the truth about this long history of racial injustice, this long history of racial inequality. There aren’t spaces that actually help Americans reckon with the fact that we’re a post genocide society. What we did to indigenous people was a genocide. And we haven’t acknowledged that in a meaningful way.

And I went to South Africa and went to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg. I was completely blown away by it, because it was so powerful. They had a room where there are nothing but nooses hanging in the space. It was so chilling. And I left and I thought, “That’s a place that talks truthfully about the legacy of Apartheid.”

I talked with people in Rwanda about the Genocide Museum and they told me that they have human skulls in that space, that’s how desperately they want to tell the truth about what they live through. And then I went to Berlin. And if you go to Berlin, you can’t go 200 meters without seeing markers and stones that had been placed next to the homes of Jewish families, who were terrorized and abducted during the Holocaust. There are no Adolf Hitler statues in Germany, and it would be unconscionable for someone in Germany to propose honoring the architects and defenders of the Holocaust.

And then I returned back to Alabama where the landscape is littered with the iconography of the Confederacy. So I’m a product of Brown vs Board of Education. I grew up in a community where black kids couldn’t go to public schools. We were denied entrance because of our race. And I started in a colored school. And then the lawyers came in and made them open up the public schools.

And I love the power that those lawyers had, because in our community, if you had a vote, we would have lost the vote, County was 80% white. We would have never been let into those schools, but these lawyers had the power to bust those doors open. And I wanted that power. Go to college, go to law school, and try to use that power on behalf of disfavored people in our jails and prisons. But it was really about 10 years ago that I began to worry and then fear that we couldn’t win Brown vs Board of Education today.

I don’t think our courts today would be willing to do something that disruptive on behalf of disfavored people. And that’s when I knew I had to get outside of the courts and start talking about this legacy of racial injustice to create an environment where that kind of legal enforcement of rights on behalf of disfavored people could be meaningful. 59 markers and memorials to the Confederacy in this city, but you couldn’t find the word slave or slavery anywhere in Montgomery, which is a majority black city.

When we put up the first marker in 2013 and black folks came out and it was so emotional and so intense to see people finally having their history acknowledged. And we moved from there to markers at lynching sites. And we have a project to put markers at every lynching site in America to resurrect this truth in history.

And then we realized we had to put it together. And that was the genesis behind the Museum and the Memorial. We just don’t have many narrative museums in America, probably the closest is the Holocaust Museum in Washington, which tells a story. And when you get to the end of that museum, you’re motivated to say, “Never again.” But we haven’t created cultural spaces that motivate people to say, “Never again,” to racial injustice and racial inequality. And the absence of that commitment is what creates all the problems that we continue to see.

But I really wanted this to be a place of truth telling, I love the Civil Rights museums, but they skew toward triumph and celebration. They tell a story that suggests, “Well, it’s all over.” And that’s not the honest truth. And so I wanted these places where that were first person, where you actually heard the words of enslaved people, you heard from family members and survivors of lynching. You heard from activists, you heard those who were resisting integration during the Civil Rights.

And then you heard from incarcerated people. We have an exhibit where you sit down at a visitation both, and you pick up the phone and you hear the stories of our clients. And we wanted it to be first person in that way, but we also want it to be big and impactful. The National Memorial really challenges communities around this country to own their history of terror and violence. And I’ve been really thrilled at the response that we’ve gotten from folks, all kinds of people have really been moved by it and we’re going to keep doing it. We’ve got a new exhibit that we just finished on the transatlantic slave trade, which I’ll be really excited to share with both of you when you come back.

 

Alicia Garza:

Cannot wait.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Oh, that’s incredible. I want to dive deeper into this question of truth. I’ve heard you say so many times that people always say, “We need a truth and reconciliation process here in this country.” And you always remind people that it’s actually sequential, that you have to reckon with the truth first, before you can get to reconciliation. And one of the things I’m really worried about is that in this country, it feels like we’re living in different truths and they’re so different. And this idea of restoring some fundamental truths is, it seems like such an essential process and project. And I’m just worried. How do we do that, Bryan?

 

Bryan Stevenson:

Yeah, it’s a really important observation, Ai-jen, I couldn’t agree more. I think about this through a historical lens. We’ve practiced silence in America for generations, and that silence has created the pollution that we are now living in. And I tell people, none of us are free in the United States. We all live in spaces, with this history of racial injustice has created a smog in the air. And it doesn’t matter whether you live in California or Mississippi or Alabama or New England, you’re breathing in contaminated air from an environment that was shaped by this long history.

And that’s why I do think we have to commit to truth telling, we have to acknowledge we’re a post genocide society that what we did to indigenous people was a genocide, that we slaughtered millions through famine and war and disease. And that narrative of racial difference that we created to justify that genocide, by saying that indigenous people are savages and using that kind of rhetoric, is at the core of the development of American society.

We passed a constitution, created a constitution that talked about equality and justice for all, but didn’t apply it to the majority of people on this land. And it was that narrative that, I think, allowed this country to be comfortable for two and a half centuries of slavery. And I often argue that the great evil of slavery wasn’t the involuntary servitude and forced labor, that was barbaric. But the real evil was this narrative we created that black people are less deserving, less valuable, less worthy, less human, less evolved.

And that ideology of white supremacy, that was the true evil of slavery that we’ve never acknowledged. And we passed the 13th Amendment that talks about ending involuntary servitude and forced labor, except for people convicted of crimes, of course, but we don’t even acknowledge this problem of white supremacy. And that’s why I’ve argued that slavery doesn’t end in 1865. It just evolves. It turns to a century of violence and the lawlessness and the terror and the trauma that black people live through.

And I often tell folks that older people of color come up to me sometimes and they say, “Mr. Stevenson, we get angry when we hear somebody on TV talking about how we’re dealing with domestic terrorism for the first time in our nation’s history after 9/11, we have to worry about being bombed and lynched and menaced.” And the truth is that the demographic geography of the United States was shaped by racial terror.

The black people in LA, the black people in Oakland, the black people in Chicago and Cleveland and Detroit didn’t go to those communities as immigrants, largely, looking for new economic opportunities. They went there as refugees, exiles from terror in the American South. And today there is still a presumption of dangerousness and guilt that gets assigned to black and brown people.

And that is at the core of the police violence that we’re fighting against and the exclusion that we’re fighting against. And I’m telling people now, just because I’m getting old enough, that when you have to keep navigating around these presumptions, it’s exhausting, you get tired. I’ve been arguing cases for a long time. I had argued a case at the Supreme Court. It was a case I actually won that ended mandatory life sentences for children.

So I was going around the country implementing the decision, representing kids in courts. And I was in the Midwest, had my suit and tie on, got there early, was sitting at defense counsel’s table. First time in this courtroom. The judge walked in, saw me sitting there and got angry. He said, “Hey, you get back out there in the hallway. You wait until your lawyer gets here. I don’t want any defendant sitting in my courtroom without their lawyer.” Middle-aged black man, all these degrees, all of this stuff. And I’m still required to laugh at my own humiliation to protect the people that I care about. And it’s exhausting and we’re tired.

And that’s why the truth telling for me is the priority. We have to tell the truth before we can get to any of that stuff. And I come from a faith tradition, in my church you can’t just walk in and say, “Oh, I want salvation.” They’ll tell you, “No, you have to confess. And you have to repent.”

 

Alicia Garza:

Yeah. They’re like, “What do you want salvation for?”

 

Bryan Stevenson:

That’s exactly right. And it’s interesting because so many people in this country believe that individually, but they haven’t applied it collectively. If we believe it individually, of course it’s got to be true collectively as well. And the good news is, is that we have seen the power of truth for generations. I mean, I look at compared to just five years ago, and Black Lives Matter, when we were saying the response then compared to the response now is an indication of what that truth telling can do.

I mean, just think about it. I mean, I don’t think any of us imagined we’d see this kind of response in such a short period of time. But it speaks to the power of truth telling, which is why I love you both for being truth tellers in the work that you do, because that’s our legacy. That’s our heritage.

My great-grandfather was enslaved in Virginia. And he learned to read while enslaved, because he believed he’d be free one day. He had no reason to believe that, but he had that belief. And the truth of that conviction is what allowed him to do the things he did. When emancipation came, my grandmother said all the formerly enslaved people would come to their house every night and my great-grandfather would stand up and he would just read the newspaper every night. That’s what he did.

She said, “I loved that he could read, and I would sit next to him.” And she said, “I decided I’m going to learn to read.” Even though she didn’t have formal education, she was a great reader. Gave that to my mother who was the youngest of her 10 children. And we were poor, but my mother believed in the truth that came with knowledge and she went into debt to buy the World Book Encyclopedia. So we had the World Book Encyclopedia in our house. We didn’t have a lot of other things. And that’s why I think our challenge now is to push our nation to understand the truth of our history.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

That’s so true and so well said. And I think we’re in this moment where we’re heading into the most important election of our lifetime. Alicia and I wake up every day wondering if we’re doing enough and also thinking about how we make the connections for all the people who are just besieged in this moment, people are tired of anti-black racism and this narrative that has shaped their lives. People are besieged by a pandemic that has stolen almost 200,000 lives from us, unnecessarily. And our essential workers are still out here working with no protections, no hazard pay, no PPE. And I’m wondering how you connect the dots between both the narratives and the very real crises that we’re facing? And how we really communicate what’s at stake? And why voting is so important this year?

 

Bryan Stevenson:

Making sure people understand the reality of that is part of it. But I also think it’s being tactical and strategic about the way we understand and approach these issues. In South Africa, after Apartheid, black people had power, they had political power. They could actually elect their leaders. There was a transfer of power.

In Rwanda, the community that had been the target of that genocide. There was a military intervention and there was power exchange. The Germans lost the war. And because of that, someone else took over. We’re trying to do work in this country without that transfer of power, which is what’s required us to be in some ways more courageous. And I really am pained by people who use their privilege and their entitlement to not vote, to exclude themselves from these hard choices.

As a black person growing up in a rural community, I was told, “Yeah, you are frequently going to have to make a choice between bad and worse, but you choose bad because that’s better than worse. And we can’t afford to not avoid worse.” And I tell people all the time, “If you don’t want to vote for that person or that person, vote for my clients on death row, who will literally die.” So I say, “Vote from my clients on death row, vote for the incarcerated, vote for the people who are being condemned to decades of imprisonment, even though they’re not a threat to public safety. Vote for the undocumented who are at risk of all kind of horrific abuse.”

And then for me, the last part of it is to realize that even though we’re overwhelmed and I go through the museum, sometimes, I go through the memorial sometimes just when it’s closed, but I walk through there sometimes and I just think about the fact that I’m a child of people who were enslaved and people who were lynched and terrorized and people who were excluded and humiliated and segregated and people who had been menaced and tormented.

But I’m also the child of people who have endured and survived and found ways to love in the midst of all of that. And that just reinforces my sense that we’re strong, we’re capable, we’re powerful. We can do things that other people think we can’t do. And the power of that witness that our fore-parents have given us, for me is really essential. And I want to give that to others, particularly in these moments of despair and anxiety and fear and frustration, you’re doing what you can do to lift people up. And that’s so important in the cause of justice.

 

Alicia Garza:

First of all, I’m over here like “It’s too early-“

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Me too, I’m weeping.

 

Alicia Garza:

… “To be cracked up.” I just saw the film Just Mercy. And our season of Sunstorm is about finding your lane. And there’s a story that you tell about what it meant for you to find your lane. Our listeners right now are also living in this moment and trying to figure out, “Where do I fit? How can I help? And how can I find my lane? Maybe I’m not somebody who lives and breathes this stuff all the time, but I want to do something.” So I think your story would really inspire people if you’d be willing to share it.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

I went to college, nobody in my family had gone to college before. I was very involved in music, I was very involved in sports and I was a Philosophy major. And I was just having the time of my life and then got to my senior year. And somebody came up to me, he said, “Nobody’s going to pay you to philosophize when you leave college.”

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s facts.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

I was like, “Oh my Lord,” I haven’t started thinking about what came next, which I’ve never done. And I looked into graduate schools and was frankly intimidated to learn that to do graduate work in History or English or Political Science, you have to know something about History, English, or Political Science. And to be honest, that’s how I found my way to law school, because it became clear to me you don’t need to know anything to go to law school.

[inaudible 00:20:14] signed up for that. But you’re right, Alicia, when I was at Harvard Law School, I became disoriented because I was interested in racial justice. I was interested in helping the poor and inequality. And it didn’t seem like people were talking about that. And I struggled until I took a course that required us to spend a month with human rights organizations providing legal services.

And I went to Georgia to work with these lawyers, representing people on death row. And they asked me to go see a condemned man. They hadn’t had time to meet. And they said, “Just tell him he’s not at risk of execution anytime in the next year.” And I got in my car, I was in my early 20s and I drove down to death row and I was so nervous and so afraid. I’d never been to death row before. I’d never been to really a secure prison before.

And they took me back to the visitation room and it was dark and intimidating. And this man walked in, handcuffs, he had a shackle around his waist, he had shackles on his ankles. And they unchained him and I got so nervous watching this, that by the time he came up to me, I’d forgotten everything. And I just said, “I’m so sorry.” I said, “I’m just a law student.” And then I remembered. And I said, “But I am here to tell you that you’re not at risk of execution anytime in the next year.”

And as soon as I said that, the man said, “Wait, wait, wait, wait, say that again.” I said, “You’re not at risk of execution anytime in the next year.” And that man grabbed my hands. And he said, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” He said, “I’ve been talking to my wife and my children, but I haven’t let them come and visit because I was afraid they’d show up and I’d have an execution date.” He said, “Now because of you. I’m going to call my wife. I’m going to call my kids and I’m going to see my family.”

And I was blown away by how, even in my ignorance, being proximate, being present in the life of someone condemned could make a difference. And we started talking, and I mean, we talked and talked. We were exactly the same age, had the same birthday, same month, same date, same year. And I got so lost in conversation I forgot I’d only scheduled to be there an hour. And we were there three hours.

And the guard got angry and came bursting into the room at some point, they couldn’t do anything to me. So they took it out on him and they threw him against the wall, pulled his arms back, put the handcuffs back on his wrist, put the chain around his waist, put the shackles on his ankles. And I was trying to get them to be gentler, because they were treating him so roughly, I said, “Look, it’s my fault. I stayed too late. It’s not his fault.” But they ignored me.

And they started shoving that man toward the door and I watched in horror. And they got him near the door. And I never will forget, he planted his feet when they got near the door and then he turned to me and he looked at me and he said, “Bryan, don’t worry about this. You just come back.” And I [inaudible 00:22:46] about it because at that point he did something I completely did not expect. He closed his eyes. He threw his head back and he started to sing.

And he started singing this hymn I used to hear all the time he started singing, “I’m pressing on the upward way. New heights I’m gaining every day, still praying as I’m onward bound.” And then he said, “Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.” And the guard stopped. And then they recovered and started pushing him down the hall. And you could hear the chains clanging, but you could hear this man singing about higher ground.

And I tell people that when I heard that man sing, everything changed for me. That was the moment that I knew I wanted to help condemned people get to higher ground. But I also knew that my journey to higher ground was tied to his journey. If he doesn’t get there, I don’t get there. And it radicalized my interest in the law. I went back to Harvard Law School. You couldn’t get me out of the law school library. I needed to know everything about the jurisprudence necessary to help condemned people get to higher ground.

And that’s what I encourage people to do. Get proximate to the people you care about, the communities you care about. Get proximate to the poor and the excluded and the neglected. Listen to the songs that can be sung in the midst of crisis and tragedy that can shape your vision. So, folks are going to have to leave the comfort of their protected spaces and go places where people are struggling and suffering.

And I feel privileged that I’ve been able to be in places, sometimes difficult places, but seeing the humanity and the dignity of human being to have been thrown away, emerge with such beauty and such clarity. I’ve never had a moment of doubt about the wrongfulness of the death penalty. And that’s why I tell people all the time, “We are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” I mean, that’s really helped me cope with my own challenges.

I really do believe if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. If they take something, they’re not just a thief. If they even kill someone, they’re not just a killer. And that idea that we are more than the worst thing we’ve done, has informed my view that justice requires that we understand the other things you are before we judge you.

 

Alicia Garza:

One of the things that really struck me in the movie is that the guard who in the movie is portrayed as literally like somebody who participates in a strip search with you when you come to the prison, which is not supposed to happen. And he’s very smug in that. And then over the course of the film, he too is transformed. And I contrast that with actually a woman who is still working with you at EJI, who started with you really being a white woman in Alabama, who was challenging a deeply, deeply racist system.

And she was getting threats in response to that. But she was very, very clear, “This is my lane.” And so I feel like with the racial justice movement, there are a lot of white folks out there who are listening right now and being like, “Well, how do I find my lane and also face the truth at the same time? How do I do that in a way that is impactful and genuine and courageous?” What might you share with folks about that?

 

Bryan Stevenson:

Sometimes people think, when we’re talking about this history of racial, that we’re talking about black history, this is American history. We weren’t the people who actually abducted 12 million Africans and put them on ships and brought them over here. We didn’t create this system of enslavement, that’s America. And that means that we are all implicated in how we correct, how we respond.

I live in a really conservative state. The political dynamics in this state are very challenging. There are 19 appellate court judges. All of them are white. I rarely am in court rooms with people of color who have decision-making roles. So I have to challenge the people here and the people all over America to think differently, to understand that they have a different responsibility than they’d been told they have.

And I think it’s hard because power and privilege and entitlement can shield you from a lie. And that’s why the Eva Ansley in the film was played by Brie Larson. Part of what we wanted people to understand is that just because you have some power, you have some privilege and you have some… Doesn’t mean that that should be the way you live your life. That when you actually take away those things, you become vulnerable, but you also become human. You become honest in a way that can transform what you can do. And that’s why no matter what your income level, there is a role for you to play, no matter what your race, no matter where you came from.

And we sometimes forget that all kinds of people came to the deep South in the 1950s to March with Dr. King. Bayard Rustin was gay and was active and vocal about the role of that community in confronting this need for civil rights. And you had people of faith, white clergy. And those stories are important because they reflect the obligation of everyone in this country to respond to this moment.

And that’s why everybody will be voting. And when you’re voting, you’re making a decision, you’re making an expression of what you intend to do in response to this moment.

Everybody has an opportunity to support organizations that do this work. I tell people, “Don’t give to us, because you think that it somehow relieves you.” I said, “Give to us because you believe in what we do. Join us in this effort. Support us.” And that kind of relationship empowers us to do the things that we need to do. And I think then the education. And often those people say, “What should I be doing?” I say, “You need to learn. Learning is an action item. Learning is something you do.”

And I think that knowledge is so important. And fortunately, there are a lot of us trying to create opportunities for learning. We were talking before we started, I’ve had no interest in writing a book, but I was kind of pushed to do. I had no expectation people would read the book. And then when the movie opportunity came along, I was very apprehensive.

But for me, it was an opportunity to expose people and I felt really nervous and anxious about it. But I realized that we have to find ways to make what we know and understand about the injustice and inequality and suffering that we see accessible to more people. That’s why I don’t exclude anybody from coming into the spaces that we’ve created to help them understand what the challenges are, what the needs are.

 

Alicia Garza:

Ooh, Lord.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I could talk to you all day, Bryan. I have a little secret dream in my life, which is before I die to see you take the bench of the Supreme Court.

 

Alicia Garza:

Yeah.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

I don’t know if it’s your dream, but it’s mine.

 

Alicia Garza:

Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Then I will know that we are becoming the America that we deserve.

 

Alicia Garza:

That’s right.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

I really do believe there’s something that feels more like freedom, feels more like equality, feels more like justice waiting for us in this country, but we cannot get there if we don’t tell the truth, if we don’t fight for it, if we don’t become courageous. And I want whoever is on the court to share that belief, that we can do better. And I think what’s happened with the court too often is that people accept the status quo, they’re content with the way things are, because they don’t understand that the way things are is not just.

 

Alicia Garza:

You know what, wrap Bryan Stevenson in bubble wrap. Wrap EJI in bubble wrap. I mean really like.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

Thank you.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Thank you, Bryan Stevenson. People can find you at EJI_org on all the socials. And if you haven’t yet watched Michael B. Jordan play our friend Bryan, you can find Just Mercy on all the streaming platforms.

 

Alicia Garza:

And if you want to get even more engaged in the work we’re all doing this fall, text Sunstorm to 97779. We’ll be sending regular updates on how you can take action on all the issues you care about. And don’t forget to check out Sunstormpod.com, where we’ll have additional information on Bryan and how you can get involved in the fight for our democracy. We’ll see you there.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Bye.

 

Alicia Garza:

Ciao.

 

Ai-jen Poo:

Sunstorm is a project of The National Domestic Workers Alliance in collaboration with Participant. Sunstorm is executive produced by Alicia Garza, Ai-jen Poo and Kristina Mevs-Apgar. Sunstorm is produced by Amy S. Choi and Rebecca Lehrer of the Mash-Up Americans. Producers are Shelby Sandlin, Mary Phillips-Sandy and Mia Warren. Original music composed by Jen Kwok and Jody Shelton.

 

Alicia Garza:

You can’t really go wrong having Michael B. Jordan play you.

 

Bryan Stevenson:

He came to Montgomery and we spent time together. He said, “I want to just be really authentic. I want to get everything right.” And I finally had to say to him, I said, “I’m totally on board with that. And I want that too, but you could keep the Black Panther. you do not have to change that.”