|Anthony Ray Hinton|
Hinton’s story was featured on the television show “60 Minutes” and in attorney Bryan Stevenson’s book “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” which has been at the center of freshman seminar, writing, criminal justice and even some economics classes at Pitt-Bradford this fall. In addition, “Just Mercy” has been chosen by the Bradford Area Public Library’s One Book Bradford selection.
Events on campus and in the community have been exploring racial bias in the justice system in the weeks leading up to Hinton’s talk at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Bromeley Family Theater of Blaisdell Hall. The talk will be free and open to the public.
Organizers said they chose the work to help the community explore important, and sometimes uncomfortable, topics surrounding the fairness and humanity of the justice system.
“We really have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” said Kristin Asinger, director freshman seminar.
Pat Shinaberger, president of One Book Bradford said the book is a departure from the group’s previous lighter fare, but one that the committee supported.
“It’s in the news, and it’s something we need to know about,” she said. “We all need to be educated about what’s going on. We could have easily escaped paying attention to it, but we decided to get involved.
Creative writing, journalism and composition courses have studied Stevenson’s writing, the issues it raises and the tradition of activist writing, explained Dr. Nancy McCabe, professor of writing who is coordinating the events. She worked with colleagues to secure a University of Pittsburgh Innovation in Education grant to bring Hinton to campus.
It is not just freshman seminar and writing students reading the book on campus. In criminal justice and economics courses, the book has provoked discussions about race, class, identity and justice. The economic courses were taught by Dr. Shailendra Gajanan, professor of economics.
Dr. Tony Gaskew, associate professor of criminal justice and founding director of the Pitt-Bradford Prison Education Program has been teaching a special topics course with the book as the text. Gaskew is also leading a discussion on inequity within the criminal justice system, highlighting the work of the Innocence Project and the Equal Justice Initiative at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at the public library.
Finally, members of the Justice Robert H. Jackson American Inn of Court, a group of lawyers and judges, will hold its annual meeting in conjunction with Hinton’s visit and attend his talk.
Copies of Stevenson’s book are available in The Panther Shop on campus, and 10 copies of the book have been donated to the Bradford Area Public Library by the YWCA of Bradford.
For disability needs related to any of the events, contact Carma Horner, disability resources and services coordinator, at 814-362-7609 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional funding for Hinton’s visit was provided by the Spectrum Arts Series; Freshman Seminar; the Divisions of Behavioral and Social Science, Communication and the Arts, and Management and Education; One Book Bradford; the Pitt-Bradford Prison Education Program; and the Justice Robert H. Jackson American Inn of Court.