MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The students at Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law organized a private screening last week of the newly released movie Just Mercy featuring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson.
The screening took place at the New Vision Theatres Chantilly 13 on January 30, 2020, where about 200 law school students, faculty, staff, and friends came to the screening including special guests from the Alabama State Bar, the Equal Justice Initiative and other members of the local legal community.
Cliff Coleman, a third-year law student at Faulkner Law and President of the Student Bar Association, helped organize the event along with the Black Law Students Association President and Faulkner Law student, Shevon Thomas II.
The event was first mentioned last year as a great opportunity for law students to join the Equal Justice Initiative and showcase the work they are doing and their legal contributions to the local community, state, and the nation.
“The work that the Equal Justice Initiative does is of critical importance for the State of Alabama and the country as a whole. The story of Bryan Stevenson is compelling for those of us who are training to be lawyers and want to make a difference. What is even better is most of this story takes place in Montgomery,” Coleman said.
“SBA and BLSA want to bring this story to Jones students, faculty, staff, and our friends. We believe that its message can speak to a wide and diverse audience,” he added.
A story of justice and redemption, Just Mercy is a feature adaptation of the true story of Montgomery’s Equal Justice Initiative and its founder, Bryan Stevenson. The film showcases Stevenson as a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative as a nonprofit law office in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated to defending the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned.
The film takes place during the early days of EJI when the organization had a small staff who decided to challenge the nation’s highest death sentencing and execution rates and confront racial injustice.
In the film, Michael B. Jordan portrays Stevenson who defends one of EJI’s first clients, Walter McMillian. McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, was sentenced to die for the murder of a young white woman that he didn’t commit.
Equal Justice Initiative’s Adam Murphy attended the screening event and spoke to the audience afterward about the movie and encouraged law students to take action.
“Contribute your legal skills and passion to a re-entry or criminal justice reform organization. Identify a gap in legal resources and create a project to fill that gap. Seek out your District Attorney and ask what they are doing about wrongful convictions. Learn more about mental illness and criminal justice and urge your elected officials to develop programs that provide treatment rather than imprisonment,” Murphy said.
Founded in 1989 by Bryan Stevenson, EJI is a private, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides legal representation to people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons.
EJI works with communities that have been marginalized by poverty and discouraged by unequal treatment. EJI also provides research and recommendations to assist advocates and policymakers in the critically important work of criminal justice reform, by publishing reports, discussion guides, and other educational materials, and conduct educational tours and presentations for thousands of students, teachers, faith leaders, professional associations, community groups, and international visitors every year.
To learn more, visit https://eji.org/.
Faulkner University is a private, Christian liberal arts university based in Montgomery, Alabama. With a mission to provide an education anchored by not only intellect but also character and service, the Faulkner experience aims to educate the whole person. Serving both traditional and non-traditional students, the university is home to six colleges: the Alabama Christian College of Arts and Sciences, the Harris College of Business and Executive Education, the V.P. Black College of Biblical Studies, the College of Education, Faulkner Law and the new College of Health Sciences. In addition to its main campus in Montgomery, Faulkner operates extension campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile and online.
For more information, visit www.faulkner.edu.
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