Michael B. Jordan is returning to the big screen on Christmas Day with the film “Just Mercy.” The movie is based on the bestselling book by public interest lawyer Bryan Stevenson.
Bryan Stevenson, 60, was born in Milton, Delaware, which is close to Philadelphia. His interest in justice was sparked at the age of 16 when his maternal grandfather, Clarence L. Golden, was fatally stabbed during a robbery. The killers received life sentences.
Stevenson would graduate from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, and received a full scholarship to Harvard Law School, which is when he began fighting for inmates on death row.
He soon began working for the Southern Center for Human Rights and by the mid-1990s he Stevenson created the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama — with the goal being to abolish the death penalty in the state after getting over 40 death penalty convictions overturned.
In 1995, he told PEOPLE, “Race and class bias are killing people. White or black, you are 11 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is white than if the victim is Black, and 22 times more likely to get death if you’re Black and the victim is white. The death penalty is used to send messages to people of color that we can still kill you if you cross the line.”
In 1991 he was honored with the National Medal of Liberty, in 2012 he received the Smithsonian Magazine American Ingenuity Award in Social Progress and in 2018 he was given The Benjamin Franklin Award for distinguished public service from the American Philosophical Society.
By 2014, Stevenson wrote the New York Times bestseller “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” which is based off the Michael B. Jordan film.
In September, Jordan told the Los Angeles Times about playing Stevenson, “I felt honored to be able to get up on set every day, go to work every day and try to make a difference, to try to be part of that change. I really, truly believe this is going to help him fight the fight he’s been doing.” Jordan is also a a producer on the film and managed to convince Stevenson to grant him the rights to his story.
The film also includes O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Jamie Foxx. Watch the trailer below.