Just Mercy Book Club // Grab your copy now, and join the conversation!

We are excited to announce our summer OER Conference for Social Studies Book Club pick! This month you are invited to join us in reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, who happens to be our keynote speaker on August 3. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a human rights organization in Montgomery, Alabama. Under his leadership, EJI has won major 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.

Our community discussion about Just Mercy will be led by Jayson Wilkinson from the OER Project Team, and Hajra Saeed, BHP teacher in Long Beach, CA.  We’ll kick off with our first book club driving question on July 15 right here in this thread, located in the OER Conference for Social Studies discussion forum. We’ll post a new driving question each Thursday for three weeks leading up to the conference which takes place August 3-5. So don't wait, grab a copy of the book, bookmark this thread so you can return on the 15th, and prepare for some rich discussions with other members of the community. Let the reading begin! 

Just Mercy // Week One Questions

We are excited to start our book club conversation on Just Mercy as we make our way to Bryan Stevenson’s August 3rd keynote address in the OER Conference for Social Studies. Post your thoughts and answers to the questions below, or add your own question.  and  will be leading the conversation and will be checking in throughout the day to respond to the discussion.   

  • Did Just Mercy make you want to explore an aspect of the U.S. criminal justice system more closely? If so, what part and why?  
  • In Just Mercy, Stevenson tells us his story of growth and discovery in relation to his understanding of the U.S. criminal justice system. Have you had a similar journey in your own life? 

Post your comments below and let's get the conversation started!

Just Mercy // Week Two Questions

  • As you are reading Just Mercy, is there a quote that "sticks with you?" Why? 
  • Is there a specific call to action that can be taken from a reading of Just Mercy? If so, what is it? 

Let's continue the conversation by posting in the comments below.

Just Mercy // Week Three Questions

  • How do the topics and concepts in Just Mercy connect to your work with students? 
  • What lessons from Just Mercy or Stevenson are you taking with you as you prepare to welcome students back to our school communities in the fall? 
  • Do know of a specific person (whether they are a personal connection, colleague, or something else) that would benefit from reading and discussing Just Mercy with you? What makes you think that and what lessons might they learn?

Post your response to the questions in the comments below as we complete our final week of the Book Club. Be sure to join us for Bryan Stevenson's Keynote Address on August 3 at 9:00 AM PDT!

Top Replies

  • For me, Just Mercy really pushed me to question my position in institutions. When I started teaching, I think I was comfortable just doing what I was told and keeping my head above water in my new school…

  • Is it possible that I jump on to the Just Mercy Train? I got to the station late, and would love to hop aboard if it is still an option. Can I hop aboard.  

  • The quote that sticks with me is "We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent." It stuck…

Parents
  • Just Mercy // Week Two Questions

    • As you are reading Just Mercy, is there a quote that "sticks with you?" Why? 
    • Is there a specific call to action that can be taken from a reading of Just Mercy? If so, what is it? 
  • “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it's necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.” 

    This quote sticks with me because I believe we can only create change when people seeing others being mistreated step in to make it stop.  Fear and Anger have been used to create an environment where people tolerate injustice.  I acknowledge that I have lived a privileged life in many ways but I have known people who haven't and I have seen what happens when the people I care about are mistreated.  I know at times I could have done more but part of the reason why I became a teacher was so I could do more to help the people around me.  

    Just Mercy gives us concrete examples of injustice and leaves me thinking what more could I do?  It leaves me feeling like I want to do more to help those who need it and haven't seen mercy or justice. I think that is where the call to action comes in. 

Reply
  • “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it's necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.” 

    This quote sticks with me because I believe we can only create change when people seeing others being mistreated step in to make it stop.  Fear and Anger have been used to create an environment where people tolerate injustice.  I acknowledge that I have lived a privileged life in many ways but I have known people who haven't and I have seen what happens when the people I care about are mistreated.  I know at times I could have done more but part of the reason why I became a teacher was so I could do more to help the people around me.  

    Just Mercy gives us concrete examples of injustice and leaves me thinking what more could I do?  It leaves me feeling like I want to do more to help those who need it and haven't seen mercy or justice. I think that is where the call to action comes in. 

Children
  • That's a powerful quote,  . It takes courage to step in and stand up for others, but that is the path to create change. I think that is why I also became a teacher and why I think a lot of us became teachers. Thanks for sharing your insight!

  • To maintain my anonymity as to where I work, I will say that I have worked directly with youth who have made decisions based on life experiences dysfunctional or nonexistent home lives. The students I work with have had little opportunity to develop healthy relationship skills, and the current living situations can exacerbate the problem. This being said, the solutions are hard to find. With the disproportionate wealth in our country, coupled with the questionable national priorities that exist, the funds need to be allocated and we need to go all in to reverse the pattern of incarceration. 

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