By Miranda Gershoni

The Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute was able to host a special early screening of Just Mercy (directed by Destin Daniel Cretton) thanks to the generosity of recent Duke alum Bryce Cracknell (Class of 2018) who now works on Social Impact for Participant Media.

Just Mercy tells the true story of Bryan Stevenson, a recent Harvard Law School graduate, who decides to move to Alabama to represent incarcerated people without the resources for adequate representation, including those who were wrongfully accused. The film takes us through the journey of Stevenson’s determination to prove his clients’ innocence, which proves to be close to impossible against a system held up by institutional racism. With the help of passionate activist Eva Ansley, he is able to bring justice to those wronged by the system, and eventually found the Equal Justice Initiative, which still supports seeking justice for people caught up in the criminal legal system.

Bryce Cracknell moderated an eye-opening and inspiring panel featuring alum and Young Trustee Trey Walk, who works with Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative as a Justice Fellow, and Shelagh Kenney the Director of Post-Conviction Litigation at the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. All students, whether they were able to attend the screening or not, are invited to see Just Mercy in theaters, which is crucial to the success of the film and the fight for justice in the criminal legal system.

The special screening of Just Mercy was co-sponsored by DKU Student Affairs, Duke Arts, Duke University Union (DUU), Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, University Center Activities & Events (UCAE).