The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Print Edition
Letter to the editor submissions
Have a strong opinion about something happening on campus or in Fort Collins? Want to respond to an article written on The Collegian? Write a Letter to the Editor by following the guidelines here.
Follow Us on Twitter
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
How Can Colorado Quarterback Shedeur Sanders Improve For the 2025 NFL Draft?
June 6, 2024

Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders stands out as a prime prospect for the 2025 NFL Draft, and it’s no surprise he's the current favorite...

Author, lawyer addresses social inequality in justice system at diversity symposium

Author Bryan Stevenson discussed issues of social justice in the U.S. justice system Thursday evening during his keynote speech at the Lory Student Center Theatre.

This event was a part of Colorado State University’s diversity symposium and partnered with and Morgan Library’s Evening with an Author Series.

Ad

Stevenson is a lawyer as well as an author. In his speech, he touched on many national issues involving injustice and told stories of his personal experiences as a lawyer.

“One of the challenges we have in this country is that we have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty, than if your poor and innocent,” Stevenson said.

Stevenson suggested four actions people must take in order to increase justice:

He said people must get closer to the problems. Stevenson said citizens need to get closer to the places with poverty and neglect, and go into prisons. He said he believes people cannot really help until they get closer and really understand the problem.

Stevenson’s second point was that the narratives that support inequality and injustice need to change. He said that fear and anger are what create oppression.

He said the nation is burdened by its history and treating different races unfairly.

“Because we didn’t deal with the true evil of America slavery in the 13th amendment, I don’t think slavery ended in 1865, I think it just evolved,” Stevenson said.

Bryan Stevenson, a prestigious lawyer, social justice activist, and author of Just Mercy gives a speech Thursday evening at the LSC. (Michael Berg | Collegian)
Bryan Stevenson, a prestigious lawyer, social justice activist and author of “Just Mercy,” gives a speech Thursday evening at the LSC. (Michael Berg | Collegian)

Stevenson’s final point was that people must be willing to do uncomfortable things in order to fight injustice. He told a story of case he took on of a mentally ill man that was sentenced to the death penalty. Stevenson explained that it is illegal to sentence someone mentally ill to the death penalty and he fought this all the way to the supreme court.

In the end, the courts ruled it was too late, and the man would die. Stevenson said he was on the phone with the man, and his last words to Stevenson were that he loved him for trying to save his life. At that point, Stevenson almost quit, but he decided to continue to fight for justice.

Ad

“I work in a broken system,” Stevenson said. “The people in power are unwilling to get proximate and they’re locked into narratives of anger and fear. They will not be hopeful and they won’t do anything uncomfortable.”

At the end of his speech, Bryan Stevenson received a standing ovation and long applause. Some audience members were in tears.

“Bryan is an amazing storyteller,” said Lauren Ryan, a Ram Events employee. “He spoke of injustices (that) he and his clients experienced, and it truly hurt my heart.”

Bryan Stevenson graduated from Harvard Law in 1985 and has been representing death row inmates in the deep south ever since. He wrote a personal memoir that became a New York Times Bestseller, “Just Mercy.”

“This was a conversation about necessary social engagement,” said Kent Washington, junior theatre major.

Collegian reporter Julia Currier can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

When commenting on The Collegian’s website, please be respectful of others and their viewpoints. The Collegian reviews all comments and reserves the right to reject comments from the website. Comments including any of the following will not be accepted. 1. No language attacking a protected group, including slurs or other profane language directed at a person’s race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, social class, age, physical or mental disability, ethnicity or nationality. 2. No factually inaccurate information, including misleading statements or incorrect data. 3. No abusive language or harassment of Collegian writers, editors or other commenters. 4. No threatening language that includes but is not limited to language inciting violence against an individual or group of people. 5. No links.
All The Rocky Mountain Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *