Bryan Stevenson – attorney, civil rights activist and executive director of Art for Justice grantee the Equal Justice Initiative – in a stirring lecture to students at Penn State Abington, encouraged them to become change agents and to believe in the power of hope.
Denouncing our current criminal justice system as hopelessly broken, Stevenson offered four solutions to the scourge of mass incarceration: getting proximate, rewriting the narrative, staying hopeful and being willing to do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient. The next generation, Stevenson offered, will be critical to changing the system.
We can’t create solutions from a distance,” Stevenson said. “Decide to get closer to people who are suffering, marginalized, disadvantaged, poor. Only in proximity to those who are suffering can we change the world.”
Stevenson shared powerful stories from his own life, leaving some students in tears and others fired up for social change. Hope, he assured them, is the solution.
“Hope is your superpower. Don’t let anybody or anything make you hopeless. Hope is the enemy of injustice,” Stevenson said. “Hope is what will get you to stand up when people tell you to sit down.”