Bryan Stevenson, Author and Pioneering Lawyer, Featured Speaker

 August 25, 2022

The author and human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson will speak at Duke at two upcoming events: Wednesday, September 21, at 6:00 p.m. in Duke University Chapel and Thursday, September 22, at 5:00 p.m. in Page Auditorium.

Both events are free and open to the public, but require no-cost tickets to attend. Duke students can reserve tickets beginning Tuesday, August 30, through the Duke Box Office; members of the public may reserve tickets through the box office beginning Thursday, September 1.

Both events will also be livestreamed but not recorded. For the livestream of the September 21 event, register here. For the livestream of the September 22 event, register through the Duke Box Office.

Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. His bestselling book Just Mercy, about Stevenson’s successful efforts to exonerate a black man in Alabama who had been sentenced to die, was adapted into a feature film.

Stevenson has argued and won multiple cases at the United States Supreme Court. He and his EJI staff have won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 135 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. They have also won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.

Through the EJI, Stevenson led the creation of two highly acclaimed cultural sites which opened in 2018: the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. These new national landmark institutions chronicle the legacy of slavery, lynching, and racial segregation, and the connection to mass incarceration and contemporary issues of racial bias.

Details for Stevenson’s two public appearances at Duke are as follows.

  • On September 21 at 6:00 p.m. in Duke Chapel, Stevenson will participate in a public conversation with Chapel Dean Luke A. Powery, titled “Seeking Justice and Redemption in the Public Square.” The discussion about faith, justice, and public witness is the Chapel’s inaugural William Preston Few Lecture. The annual series takes its name from Duke’s first president who articulated a vision of education promoting the courage to seek the truth and the conviction to live it. The series is funded by the William Preston Few Endowment for Duke Chapel, which was established in 1986 by Kendrick S. Few '39 as a memorial to his father, William Preston Few, the first president of Duke University. For questions about this event, email
  • On September 22 at 5:00 p.m. in Page Auditorium, Stevenson will give an address titled “Standing for Equal Justice” for the fall 2022 Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture presented by Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. The lecture series, endowed by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, is meant to promote engaged and enlightened leadership. It is held in honor of the late Terry Sanford, a bold leader who served as North Carolina governor, U.S. senator, president of Duke University, and founder of the Sanford School of Public Policy. For questions about this event, email

Video cameras and video recording are not allowed at the events.

In addition to the Sanford School and Duke Chapel, the Duke Law School is co-sponsoring Stevenson’s appearances at Duke.

Stevenson’s work has won him numerous awards, including the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Prize; the ABA Medal, the American Bar Association’s highest honor; the National Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union after he was nominated by United States Supreme Court Justice John Stevens; the Public Interest Lawyer of the Year by the National Association of Public Interest Lawyers; and the Olaf Palme Prize in Stockholm, Sweden, for international human rights. In 2015, he was named to the Time 100 list recognizing the world’s most influential people. In 2016, he received the American Bar Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award. He was named in Fortune’s 2016 and 2017 World’s Greatest Leaders list. He received the Martin Luther King Jr. Nonviolent Peace Prize from the King Center in Atlanta in 2018. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government.

Caption: Bryan Stevenson. Photo by Rog and Bee Walker for EJI.


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