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Registration for DE's December 10 Racial Justice Book Group is open!


We're excited to read and discuss 'Just Mercy' by Bryan Stevenson, founder of The Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), The Legacy Museum: from Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, and The National Memorial for Peace and Justice. Stevenson has earned global acclaim for his work challenging racial injustice in the American legal system.

The Museum and Memorial, which 100 Evanston residents visited on Dear Evanston's Uncomfortable Journey in September, chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, and their connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias.

'Just Mercy' is the story of the founding of EJI, the death-row clients Stevenson defends, and his declaration: “The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.”

In 'Just Mercy,' Stevenson lays out four steps we can all apply if we want to take action against racial injustice:

-- Get proximate: We have too many people trying to problem-solve from a distance. When you try to problem-solve from a distance you miss the details and the nuances of the problems and your solutions don’t work very effectively.

-- Get uncomfortable: To truly fight for justice, one must be prepared for an uncomfortable journey. “There is no path to justice that is only comfortable and convenient,” Stevenson says. “We will not create justice until we’re willing to sometimes position ourselves in uncomfortable places and be a witness.”

-- Change the narrative: We’re burdened by our history. We can’t get free in this country until we change the narrative. We created this idea a long time ago that people are different based on their color and that narrative of racial difference is something we’ve got to confront. Talking about the ills of the past and their connection to today are needed before we can begin to change the American narrative on race.

-- Embrace hope: Hope is what gets you to stand when other people say sit down,” Stevenson says. “Hope is what gets you to speak when other people say be quiet.” Come and join the discussion!

Thanks to our discussion guide leader Lesley Williams and volunteer facilitators who ask thought- provocative questions and help keep us on track.

Thanks to Lesley and YWCA Evanston/North Shore's Eileen Hogan Heineman for helping to select our year's book list, with suggestions from our participants.

Thanks to Cynthia Barnes Slater for help cooridinating December's book group,


Tuesday, December 10, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Location to be announced soon.


We'll begin the evening with remarks from Evanstonians Rick Tulsky and Betsy Wilson. Rick is co-founder and editorial director of Injustice Watch, a non-partisan, not-for-profit, multimedia journalism organization based in Chicago that conducts in-depth research exposing institutional failures that obstruct justice and equality. Bryan Stevenson serves on the board of Injustice Watch.

Betsy is the founder for of the Sentencing Advocacy Group of Evanston, which conducts detailed life-history investigations for defendants who face potential death sentences and children who are facing sentences of life without release. Betsy has been dedicated to capital defense and sentencing advocacy for her 20-year legal career. Her clients are nearly always members of marginalized communities, and racism and poverty are crucial elements of every case.


Following our discussion, speakers, guests, and facilitators will suggest ways all of us can become more involved in our community to address the issues raised during the evening.


We'll serve a light catered dinner and beverages.


Thanks to Nina Barrett and Bookends & Beginnings, you can get 15% off on the book when you mention Dear Evanston. You can also borrow a book FREE from the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington, second floor information desk. Thanks to Heather Norborg for organizing.


It's always completely free, though donations are gratefully accepted online or at sign in!




-- The book group is limited to those who work, worship, live, and/or learn in Evanston.

-- You MUST register at the Eventbrite link here.


The movie Just Mercy, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, opens in theaters on December 25! Read a review and behind the scenes information here.

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