Montana State University

Bryan Stevenson to speak on 'Just Mercy' at 2017 MSU convocation set Aug. 24

April 17, 2017 -- MSU News Service

Bryan Stevenson, a social justice activist who is called “the Nelson Mandela of America,” will invite first-year students to “take the higher ground” at Montana State University’s 2017 Convocation set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy,” is the 2017 MSU book selection for first-year students. Photo by Robert Fouts courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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Bryan Stevenson, a social justice activist who is called “the Nelson Mandela of America,” will speak at Montana State University’s 2017 Convocation set for 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, in the Brick Breeden Fieldhouse. Stevenson’s book, “Just Mercy,” is the 2017 MSU book selection for first-year students.

Stevenson is a public interest lawyer who is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. He is known for his work to help the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned. The Equal Justice Initiative has won legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults.

Stevenson has successfully argued several cases in the United States Supreme Court and recently won a historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. He and his staff have won reversals, relief or release for over 115 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. Stevenson is also a professor at the New York University School of Law.

Stevenson is the recipient of numerous awards including a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant, the National Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union after he was nominated by United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year by the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers and the Olaf Palme Prize in Stockholm, Sweden, for international human rights.

He has received 26 honorary degrees, including degrees from Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University and Washington University.

Stevenson’s , “Just Mercy,” is a New York Times bestseller that was named by Time Magazine as one of the 10 Best Books of Nonfiction for 2014. The book has been awarded several honors including a 2015 NAACP Image Award. His presentation “We need to talk about an injustice” is also a popular TedTalk.

“Bryan Stevenson’s key message is that all of us can take the higher ground and make a difference in this world,” said MSU Provost Bob Mokwa. “This message will be a powerful inspiration to our incoming students as they begin to shape their destiny and plan studies to support their life’s goals. We welcome all members of the community to join us at this event.”

Mokwa said that this year’s MSU convocation has been scheduled the day after MSU’s Move-In Day to allow family members and friends to attend the event.

MSU convocation is free, however, the general public must reserve tickets. They will be available beginning June 12 at the Bobcat Ticket Office and all ticketswest outlets.

For more information about 2017 convocation, go to: http://www.montana.edu/convocation/.

MSU's convocation is the formal welcoming of its incoming class where the university focuses attention on academic affairs. It shows the support of the university and community to help the new students reach their goal of becoming the graduating class of 2021. Stevenson's lecture will be the 12th MSU convocation. 

David Singel (406) 994-4371, dsingel@montana.edu