Akiya Dillon is pursuing a Certificate in Policy, Journalism and Media Studies at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. As a part of her studies, she is taking a course on Courthouse Reporting. Her class, along with professor Stephen Buckley, read the bestselling book Just Mercy. Then they met the author, pioneering lawyer Bryan Stevenson when he came to Duke.
Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), a human rights organization in Montgomery. EJI has won reversals, relief, or release from prison for 135+ wrongly condemned prisoners on death row. His critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Just Mercy was adapted as a major motion picture.
The lecture inspired Aikya and many others, particularly around the focus of "getting proximate" to people in order to make change.
Bryan Stevenson was on campus to give the 2022 Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture.