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Gaining Truth Back: A “Just Mercy” Interview

As a Point Loma Nazarene University alumnus transforms into an award-winning director, Destin Daniel Cretton continues to rock social boundaries with his upcoming film “Just Mercy”. The major motion picture, highlighting the injustices of over-incarceration and excessive punishment, spotlights the true story of a civil rights defense attorney challenging the wrongful convictions and unfair sentences of those on death row in Montgomery, Al.

Cretton discussed that the power of Bryan Stevenson’s work on Stevenson’s memoir “Just Mercy” inspired him to break out of the “silent consumer” role that many of us fall into.

“It [the novel] made me cry and laugh,” said Cretton. “It made me feel connected to a world that I didn’t think too much about.”

As the director started to mold the production of the film, Cretton discussed that his close work with Stevenson allowed him to better understand the Equal Justice Initiative and its importance to our current social setting.

The film focuses on Bryan Stevenson, played by Michael B. Jordan, as an African-American lawyer and the Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in the late 80s and early 90s. Through his non-profit organization, Stevenson defends an African-American man who spends six years on death row for a murder he did not commit. Stevenson not only works to represent and free Walter McMillian, played by Jamie Foxx, but powerfully continues to work toward equal representation in Alabama and beyond.

According to statistics from the Equal Justice Initiative organization, “In 1989, about 25% of the people executed in the United States were executed in the state of Alabama.”

“It’s stunning that a country that is so dedicated to incarceration as a solution for its problems know so little about who we lock up, why and for how long,” said EJI’s Senior Attorney Charlotte Morrison in a public statement.

Cretton recalls the process of directing “Just Mercy” as “the genesis story of a real-life superhero.” Our director goes on that the issues discussed shouldn’t be taken lightly, and the movie is “not just a subject matter.” The problems discussed in “Just Mercy” from decades ago are just as relevant today. 

“These are real people that are contributing to society. The ripple effect of one young, black lawyer has changed so many things. I’ve never done something so timely and relevant.” 

The decision to become responsible and take initiative is colorful. Which shades will you choose? 

To learn more about the Equal Justice Initiative, visit https://justmercy.eji.org

“Just Mercy” will be released in select cinemas on December 25, 2019, and nationwide on January 10, 2020.

About the author

Brooke Mora

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