Just Mercy: 'Bryan Stevenson's Impact Has Been Felt, Even If You Don't Know Him Just Yet'

In 1988, lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson sought to give voice to Walter McMillian, a man wrongfully imprisoned for the murder of a white woman. In 2020, Just Mercy will give a new voice to their story.


In an exclusive clip obtained by The Root to honor Global Human Rights Day, some of the cast and crew of Just Mercy (Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson and writer-director Destin Daniel Cretton) were tasked with the challenge of describing Stevenson in 10 words or less.

The conclusion: “Bryan Stevenson saw a problem and did something.”

And he’s still doing something.

“It’s important that we build spaces,” Stevenson told The Root in a June 2019 interview to discuss the memorial and museum dedicated to African American lynching victims, as part of his Equal Justice Initiative. “So, if we can make a difference in Montgomery [Alabama], if we can challenge some of the silence that has existed here for decades, then there won’t be another community in America that claims that they can’t do it. That’s the power of going into difficult places and pursuing this kind of work. I do worry if we only stay in New York and DC, if we only stay in urban centers, with black populations, that we’re not going to achieve the kind of transformation that our nation desperately needs.”

Global Human Rights Day is observed on Dec. 10 of every year, as it is the day on which the United Nations General Assembly Universal adopted the Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948, “a milestone document proclaiming the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Just Mercy will impact audiences in select theaters Dec. 25 and will then be released everywhere Jan. 10.