Bryan Stevenson Author of Just Mercy the 2019 Common Reading Selection to Visit Appalachian

Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

Common Reading Program

Tuesday, September 17, 2019
7:00 p.m.

Bryan Stevenson, author of the Common Reading Program 2019-20 book selection Just Mercy, will speak on Tuesday, September 17, from 7:00-8:00 p.m., at the Holmes Convocation Center. A book signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public.

Just Mercy details the injustices of a broken criminal justice system that punishes poor people, and Stevenson’s work to improve that system. The Common Reading Committee selected Just Mercy for its relevance to a wide range of academic disciplines and because Stevenson’s work has had a profound impact on our society.

Bryan Stevenson is a graduate of Harvard Law School and founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama.  Stevenson has dedicated his career as a public interest lawyer to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.  The Equal Justice Initiative has exonerated innocent death row prisoners, won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, aided children prosecuted as adults, and opposed the abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill. Stevenson successfully argued in the U.S. Supreme Court that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional.  

Most recently, with the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson founded the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also known as the Lynching Memorial, in Montgomery, Alabama.

 For 22 years, Appalachian’s Common Reading Program Committee has selected a book for incoming first-year students to read together in order to jump-start intellectual engagement both inside and outside the classroom.  All incoming new students will receive a copy of Just Mercy when they come to campus for Summer Orientation and will discuss the book during Welcome Weekend in August.  Students will remain engaged with the book and its themes throughout the academic year, in their First Year Seminars and at co-curricular events throughout the year, such as faculty panel discussions being organized by the Sociology, Rhetoric and Composition, and Government and Justice Studies departments. 

The University Bookstore will be selling copies of Just Mercy throughout the year as well as at the event on September 17.

To learn more about Just Mercy, including information about the campus visit by Bryan Stevenson, Welcome Weekend book discussions, and other events go to the Common Reading Program website at

About the Common Reading Program at Appalachian

Since 1997, incoming first-year students at Appalachian State University have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to the university. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a common experience with other new students that will help develop a sense of community with their new environment and introduce them to a part of the academic life they are beginning at Appalachian. This program is an exciting facet in Appalachian's orientation of new students to life on campus. Learn more at

About University College

Formed in 2007, University College consists of the university’s general education program, faculty and student support, and co-curricular programming and support – all designed to support the work of students both inside and outside the classroom. All students at Appalachian begin their education in University College and benefit from its programs until they graduate. Learn more at

Author Bryan Stevenson - Photo by Nina Subin
Published: Aug 7, 2019 9:32am