Newspaper article News Sentinel

Author Says Race Relations, History Must Be Discussed

Newspaper article News Sentinel

Author Says Race Relations, History Must Be Discussed

Article excerpt

New York Times best-selling author Bryan Stevenson has spent much of his professional life as an attorney focusing on what he sees as racial injustices in the American criminal justice system.

But Monday's resignation of University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe following protests by some that he poorly handled several racially motivated incidents at the school also caught Stevenson's attention.

And he sees a similarity between what happened there and what has happened with the criminal justice system. Primarily, more conversations about race relations and its history need to take place in both areas, he said.

"Until we talk about it, we're going to bump into each other and have these problems emerge," he said before speaking at a Crowne Plaza dinner celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Knox County Public Defender's Community Law Office. "There's a better place we can be, but we've got some work to do."

The author, whose recent Carnegie Award-winning book, "Just Mercy," chronicles some of his experiences as a criminal defense attorney and his observations of the system, said more talk has begun on improvement.

And because of that, he is optimistic positive changes can come, whether it is in the area of wrongful convictions or reform in other areas.

"You are hearing more people talk about criminal justice reform who historically have not been talking about it," he said. …

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