Attorney and author Bryan Stevenson visits for Rise Above Week

Photo by Zach Philips
Photo by Zach Philips

Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, visited the University of Maryland on Nov. 1 to give a lecture in the Stamp Grand Ballroom.

Stevenson’s lecture was just one of many events during the university’s Rise Above week.

According to Beth Douthirt Cohen, directer of education and training at the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, this is the fourth year for Rise Above week.

“We wanted different types of engagement for different people on campus,” said Cohen. According to the schedule, there were 17 events scheduled between Oct. 31 and Nov. 4 for students and faculty to attend.

Almost 200 people attended the panel on Intersections on Oct. 31, Cohen said. She also mentioned other various events that drew between 30 and 100 people.

The Stamp Grand Ballroom was nearly filled for Stevenson’s lecture, with people actually waiting in the lobby to hear.

Stevenson was brought to the university as a part of the First Year Book Program.

“Each year the first year book committee reviews many books and determines one that we believe will stimulate conversation on campus,” said Lisa Kiely, assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies.

Kiely said that the program creates events for students to read and interact with the writings, and discuss the book, before ultimately bringing the author to campus. “We want to introduce ideas and have a campus discussion from many different points of view,” said Kiely.

Stevenson’s lecture focused on how he found his career as an attorney, and some of the experiences he faced while he fought for the condemned. Stevenson said he had worked with many people on death row, including wrongly convicted felons, and mentally challenged individuals who were charged without the true process.

Stevenson called for justice. He encouraged the audience of faculty and students to find “get proximate” to the issues in the world, in order to better understand them and to solve them.

Stevenson’s talk lasted an hour, and within an hour of its conclusion the next event for Rise Above Week was taking place.

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