45ºF

People moved to Michigan to escape terrorism in the American South, human rights attorney says

Watch our interview with Bryan Stevenson tonight on Local 4 at 11

He’s saved the lives of prisoners on death row. Now, famed human rights lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, has a message for local kids. “You're never too young to actually do something to stand up for the rights of other people," he said during a recent talk.

Stevenson is founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala. An acclaimed civil rights attorney, he's a MacArthur Genius grant recipient. His bio reads

Mr. Stevenson is a 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.  Mr. Stevenson has successfully argued several cases in the United States Supreme Court and recently won an historic ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. 

Local 4's Kimberly Gill shows you how his challenging point of view is having a real impact and what kids at a local school had to say about it, tonight on Local 4 News at 11.

Among Stevenson and EJI's major works include a report on lynchings in the American South between 1877 and 1950. Those lynchings, he says, are the reason many people moved to Michigan.  

“There are communities in Michigan that were settled in direct response to terrorism in the American South,"  Stevenson said during the interview, "and most of us haven't talked about that.”

Stevenson was recently part of an Academy Award-nominated documentary "The 13th," about racial inequality in the U.S. prison system. 

Here's Stevenson's TED talk on racial injustice: