The Legal Crusader
The Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award winner is giving new hope to thousands of young people in America’s prisons.
- Bryan Stevenson is an attorney who provides legal services to “the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” Based on the video, why do you think he became interested in this work?
- Stevenson describes his work as giving a voice to the “voiceless.” For him these are people who have been convicted unfairly or treated unfairly. What circumstances or events can you think of that might take away someone’s voice?
- Stevenson describes his own early education, when he moved from a segregated, “colored” school to a public school. Through this, he personally experienced a situation where the status quo was unfair. What are other examples, either in the USA or in other countries, where the existing state of affairs is unfair?
- Stevenson also says that he is trying to change the way American talks about race and poverty. To Stevenson, this involves confronting American’s history of racial inequality. Can you think of other examples where historical inequality has led to present-day inequality? Why do you think it’s important to confront difficult issues, even when they are part of our past?
- Stevenson also describes his efforts to help children, or juveniles, who receive lifelong prison sentences for violent crimes. Stevenson puts forward ideas for why this type of injustice occurs. What are they?
- Stevenson mentions that he gets a lot of criticism when he comes into communities to “stand up” for the people he represents legally. Why do you think that might be? Can you think of other examples where assumptions might be misleading?
- Stevenson talks about the need to recognize the basic human dignity of every human being. What are ways in which you think this can be done?
- Can you think of other people, either historical or contemporary, who are advocates for the marginalized, or witnesses to those who have been treated unfairly? Who are they?
This video exists as part of a series gathered around the theme of Civil Society. Other videos in this series are listed below.