Connecticut College has entered into a new partnership with One Book One Region of eastern Connecticut, and will join local communities in reading “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson. As part of OBOR’s reading program, Stevenson will visit the College on April 4, 2016.
OBOR’s concept is based on the idea of expanding a small book club to that of an entire community, around which programming is developed, culminating in a visit to the region by the author. The goals of the initiative are to: bring a community together to discuss ideas; broaden the appreciation of reading; and break down barriers among community members.
“The power of this program comes from both the partnership and the selected reading. Stevenson’s book and visit will spark important conversations, and strengthen ties between the College and the community,” said Dean of the College and the Faulk Foundation Professor of Psychology Jefferson Singer.
For the past 14 years, OBOR has selected one book as a community reading. Singer helped launch this year’s program by introducing “Just Mercy” at the Branford House on the University of Connecticut’s Avery Point campus Oct. 13.
Stevenson’s April visit will also launch President Katherine Bergeron’s new Distinguished Lecture Series. Stevenson’s talk will be the inaugural lecture, and he will be on campus in conjunction with the College’s Founder’s Day celebration.
President Bergeron’s Distinguished Lecture Series will be an annual event, and will bring notable speakers to campus for a public presentation and informal meetings with students, faculty and staff.
Stevenson is the founder and executive of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit legal practice dedicated to defending those in need who have received unfair treatment by the criminal justice system. Stevenson is a recipient of a MacArthur (“Genius”) fellowship.
“Just Mercy,” which received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, is a memoir that questions the inequities of the U.S. justice system and the morality of capital punishment.
Because Stevenson is interested in meeting with students, the OBOR planning committee reached out to the College through the Office of Volunteers for Community Service (OVCS) to partner with the initiative. The Office of the Dean of the College, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy and OVCS will work together to plan a series of events, both on campus and within the larger community, related to the book in preparation for Stevenson’s campus visit in April.
Over the next several months, local civic, school and library groups will read and discuss “Just Mercy” at various events.