just mercyBy Amanda Tobier, English Teacher, Bronx Lab School

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At the high school I work at in the Bronx, we started a book club for teachers last year. It is a great way to spend time with colleagues when we are more ourselves, and not always acting as an educator or administrator. As with any book club, we spend a lot of time deciding on the menu, and enjoy putting our feet up on the comfortable chairs in the school library. And sometimes, like other book clubs, we stray off topic . . .

But when we turned our attention to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, we were immediately gripped by what we were reading. Even before our first meeting, we were emailing each other with pages that blew us away. By the time we met, we had all finished reading the book—an accomplishment for busy educators!—and we were looking forward to discussing. (more…)

Bryan Stevenson -- credit Nina SubinBy Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Spiegel & Grau, October 2014)

My grandmother was the daughter of people who were enslaved in Caroline County, Virginia. She was born in the 1880s, her parents in the 1840s, and the legacy of slavery very much shaped her and the things she would say to me. When I visited my grandmother, she would hug me so tightly I could barely breathe. After a little while, she would ask me, “Bryan, do you still feel me hugging you?” If I said yes, she’d let me be; if I said no, she would assault me again. I said no a lot because it made me happy to be wrapped in her formidable arms. She never tired of pulling me to her. “You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance, Bryan. You have to get close,” she told me all the time. (more…)