Bryan A. Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Ala., will receive an honorary degree from the College of the Holy Cross and address this year’s graduates during the College’s Commencement ceremonies on Friday, May 22 at 10:30 a.m. on the campus.
Stevenson is the widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Stevenson has successfully argued several cases in the Supreme Court of the United States, and recently won an historic ruling banning mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger as unconstitutional.
For his work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, Stevenson has received numerous awards including the American Bar Association’s Wisdom Award for Public Service, the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Award Prize, the ACLU National Medal of Liberty, the National Public Interest Lawyer of the Year Award, the Gruber Prize for International Justice, and the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award.
Author of the acclaimed and bestselling book, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” (Spiegel and Grau/Random House, 2014), Stevenson is a graduate of Harvard Law School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
“Just Mercy” was named by Time Magazine one of the 10 best books of nonfiction for 2014, and has been awarded several honors including the 2015 NAACP Image Award for outstanding nonfiction literary work. Stevenson’s 2012 TED talk, “We need to talk about an injustice,” has received more than two million views.
In addition to Stevenson, the College will award honorary degrees to the following individuals at Commencement:
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