True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality follows 30 years of EJI’s work on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
Told primarily in his own words, True Justice shares Bryan Stevenson’s experience with a criminal justice system that “treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.” The burden of facing this system is explored in candid interviews with associates, close family members, and clients.
This feature documentary focuses on Bryan Stevenson’s life and career—particularly his indictment of the U.S. criminal justice system for its role in codifying modern systemic racism—and tracks the intertwined histories of slavery, lynching, segregation and mass incarceration. Highlighting watershed moments involving cases and clients, True Justice offers a rare glimpse into the human struggle that is required when the poor and people of color are wrongly condemned or unfairly sentenced, and explores the personal toll it takes.
The film chronicles EJI’s work in Alabama as well as the early influences that drove Bryan Stevenson to become an advocate for the poor and the incarcerated. As a young lawyer in the 1980s, he witnessed firsthand how courts unfairly applied the death penalty based on race and how the Supreme Court ultimately declared that racial bias in the administration of the death penalty was “inevitable.”
Tracing the trajectory of the Court since the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which ruled that African Americans are not citizens, True Justice shows how the Court has long sanctioned inequality, oppression, and violence. Illuminating the power of memory in cultural change, the film instills hope for a brighter American future.
The film also documents the monumental opening of EJI’s Legacy Museum and its National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which is dedicated to the more than 4,400 African American victims of lynching. These sites are part of EJI’s effort to engage the nation in a new era of truth and justice. As part of the campaign, EJI is working with communities to recognize lynching victims by collecting soil from lynching sites and erecting historical markers.
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality reveals a history that can’t be forgotten in the pursuit of genuine justice.
[via Equal Justice Initiative]