All students at The Frederick Gunn School will participate in a summer reading book club, featuring “Just Mercy: Young Adult Edition,” by Bryan Stevenson (ISBN [978-0525580034). This is the young adult adaptation of the acclaimed, #1 New York Times bestseller “Just Mercy,” which is now a major motion picture starring Michael B. Jordan, Jaime Foxx, and Brie Larson, and the subject of an HBO documentary feature. The school would welcome parents to read the book as well.
About “Just Mercy”
An attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, Stevenson has dedicated his practice to defending the poor, the incarcerated, and the wrongly condemned. “Just Mercy” tells the stories of the people Stevenson has helped, including innocent death row inmates who were exonerated. “Mr. Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the United States Supreme Court, including a 2019 ruling protecting condemned prisoners who suffer from dementia and a landmark 2012 ruling that banned mandatory life-imprisonment-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row and won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced,” according to EJI.
About This Book Selection
History teacher LaDarius Drew, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, shared why “Just Mercy” was chosen for the all-school summer reading this year. “In a world where we see racism as a truth of our existence, many of us do not know how it can persist in a country like the United States of America. Bryan Stevenson mentioned this in the ‘Just Criminal’ podcast stating, ‘The System wasn't always fair or just.’ We’ll work with our community on the question of, ‘What is justice?’ in our walk of life, and how do we understand it during our reading of ‘Just Mercy.’”
FGS students need to understand what it means to be critical thinkers all with the goal to pursue justice while existing in the American system. However we’re doing more than just observing what that looks like in our court systems. We will be working together to define what it means to live in a just community. To function as a just community, we have to engrain it in every limb and fiber we have as individuals, and understand that all of us want equality for one another. We are all in this together, and we will read “Just Mercy: Young Adult Edition” to observe injustices within the United States.
As Head of School Peter Becker has said, “Stevenson holds out, much as Martin Luther King does, a vision for what a life oriented by and around and towards love actually looks like. That is something that we aspire to be as a community, and as we look ahead to the 2021-22 school year, what does it mean to be an institution that is oriented around love?” You can hear more from Mr. Becker about why “Just Mercy” was chosen as our all-school summer reading in this video:
- All-School Read
- Mr. Becker