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Posted on: April 27, 2015

[ARCHIVED] MSU, City of East Lansing Announce 2015 One Book, One Community Selections

EAST LANSING, Mich. —The City of East Lansing and Michigan State University announce the 2015 One Book, One Community (OBOC) program, featuring the works of two extraordinary champions of human rights.

This year’s selections embody the 2015 theme: A Community Conversation on Justice, Human Rights and Compassion.

The 2015 selections include “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” a New York Times Bestselling book by attorney and author Bryan Stevenson; and “The House I Live In,” a documentary film by Eugene Jarecki that won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize in 2012. The selections have been instrumental in raising the nation’s consciousness of how institutionalized bias and punitive legislation have denied the rights of many Americans and tarnished human rights in the United States.

“MSU students, community members, and faculty are encouraged to engage in thoughtful conversations around the themes explored in both the book and film,” said MSU Provost June Pierce Youatt. “These issues are important and timely, as public awareness of bias and injustice across the country has recently increased.”

“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson chronicles his life’s work in his new, inspiring New York Times Bestselling book, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.” As a young Harvard-educated attorney, he chose to fight for the rights of wrongly incarcerated inmates, eventually saving over 115 men from death row. Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Ala., which provides pro bono defense for inmates whose cases show bias, judicial neglect and incompetence. He is also a professor of clinical law at New York University School of Law.

In his book, Stevenson weaves the story of his relentless effort for justice and the history of a flawed justice system around the stories of his clients that were wrongly or inhumanely incarcerated. Each compelling story illustrates the ways in which the justice system neglected or abused the law and the rights of the accused. In one such story, Walter McMillan, a black man falsely accused of killing a white woman, spent seven years on death row as Stevenson fought for a retrial and his eventual acquittal. The case won national attention, including coverage on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

“The House I Live In” by Eugene Jarecki
Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki co-wrote and directed the award-winning documentary, “The House I Live In,” focusing his lens on the tragic and costly impact of the U.S. war on drugs and human rights ramifications. Through the testimony of police officers, inmates and judges, Jarecki demonstrates that taxpayer’s massive financial investment in fighting drugs has primarily incarcerated poor people and failed to end drug use. The film implies that police and courts are under increasing pressure to meet quotas for arrests and convictions in order to fill jails and keep state and federal money flowing. The documentary won the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize in 2012.

Jarecki has produced numerous award-winning documentaries, but described “The House I Live In” as his life’s calling and a call for action to a nation that is unaware or indifferent to the war on drugs.

About OBOC Signature Events
Bryan Stevenson will kick off the month-long OBOC program with a talk on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at the East Lansing Hannah Community Center. He will discuss his experiences and sign books. He will also address the MSU’s incoming class at the Academic Welcome in the Jack Breslin Student Events Center on Monday, Aug. 31 at 9 a.m. Both events are FREE to the community.

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, filmmaker Eugene Jarecki will speak about his documentary at 7 p.m. at the Wharton Center for Performing Arts. This program is jointly sponsored by OBOC and the World View Lecture Series. The event is ticketed. Visit www.whartoncenter.com for ticket information.

OBOC Launches New Website
In conjunction with the announcement of the 2015 program, OBOC is launching a new website, featuring a new design, improved functionality and better navigation. Visit www.onebookeastlansing.com.

Interesting Facts About the 2015 Program
- Bryan Stevenson’s popular 2012 TED talk entitled “We need to talk about an injustice” is known for holding the longest standing ovation given to any TED speaker. It can be viewed for free @ www.ted.com.

- The documentary film, “The House I Live In,” by Eugene Jarecki is available on DVD and can be watched instantly on Netflix.

- Bryan Stevenson has been called the “American Nelson Mandela” by Archbishop Desmond Tutu for his courageous work on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised.

- Bryan Stevenson has received numerous awards and honorary degrees, including Sweden’s Olof Palme prize and a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.”

- Eugene Jarecki collaborated with John Legend, Danny Glover, Brad Pitt and Russell Simmons as executive producers of “The House I Live In.”

- Since his role as an executive producer, John Legend has since launched a campaign to end mass incarceration.

- Eugene Jarecki is a visiting fellow at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies and co-author of “Freakonomics: The Movie.”

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