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Lecture series will bring famed author, activist Stevenson to in October

Cincinnati Enquirer logo Cincinnati Enquirer 5/12/2019 Mark Curnutte
Bryan Stevenson in a suit standing in front of a television: Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, will be the initial speaker in a new lecture series at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. © Provided by Gannett Co., Inc. Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, will be the initial speaker in a new lecture series at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County will announce this week that author, lawyer and civil rights activist Bryan Stevenson will be the inaugural speaker in the annual Mary S. Stern lecture series.

Stevenson is author of "Just Mercy" and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal firm and civil rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. An Evening with Bryan Stevenson will be Oct. 8 in Procter & Gamble Hall at the Aronoff Center for the Arts. Tickets will go on later this summer and be $5.

"My parents felt strongly about this city," said Peter Stern, 74, an orthopedic surgeon and son of Mary and Joseph Stern. "They had enough financial wherewithal to be involved with a number of organizations, including the library."

His father predeceased his mother, and she wanted to create a lecture series focusing on inequality. "She was intent on bringing in compelling people who could appeal to all segments of society," said Stern, chair of the Mary S. Stern Lecture Committee and Library Foundation board member.

Stevenson's "Just Mercy," subtitled "A Story of Justice and Redemption," received a Carnegie Medal by the American Library Association for the best nonfiction book of 2014 and a 2015 NAACP Image Award.

As an attorney, Stevenson has successfully argued several cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and recently won an historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief or release for over 125 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row.

In 2018, Stevenson's Equal Justice Initiative opened the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which honors thousands of African Americans lynched in the United States, including some victims killed in Greater Cincinnati counties of Boone, Butler and Clermont.

MORE: National lynching memorial names six local victims

MORE: Lynched in Oxford, Ohio

The EJI's Legacy Museum documents the black American experience from enslavement through mass incarceration.

Stevenson, 59, is often quoted in social justice circles.

Among his most popular quotations:

• "You don't change the world with the ideas in your mind, but with the conviction in your heart."

• "We have a system of justice in (the United States) that treats you much better if you're rich and guilty than if you're poor and innocent."

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Lecture series will bring famed author, activist Stevenson to in October

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