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RR Book Group: Just Mercy Week 1

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reading and discussing Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy together. Every Tuesday, we’ll post a few questions inspired by the week’s reading. 

Even if you haven’t read all the chapters, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and responses either in the comments below or on this forum thread. Before we get started, a few housekeeping things…

  1. Confused by the forums? You’ll find tutorials for everything from registration to setting up notifications in our Welcome thread. When we read Slow Church together last year, a lot of discussion happened in this space, so please be sure to drop by often! We might even have extra questions we couldn’t fit into the blog posts…

  2. See our Rabbit Reads recommendation for a quick introduction to the book

  3. And if you don’t have a copy yet, you can buy Just Mercy at The Rabbit Room Store

Ready? Here are some questions from this week’s reading. We’re looking at the Introduction, and Chapters 1 through 4, highlighting the beginning of Stevenson’s career and the Morrison investigation and trial.

Henry gave me a smile and said, “It’s okay, Bryan. Don’t worry about this. Just come back and see me again, okay?” I could see him wince with each click of the chains being tightened around his waist.

Stevenson remarked that Henry looked like everyone he’d grown up with. Do prisoners look like people we know? Do they look like us?

But there was no evidence against McMillan — no evidence except that he was an African American man involved in an adulterous interracial affair, which meant he was reckless and possibly dangerous, even if he had no prior criminal history and a good reputation. Maybe that was evidence enough.

What is the most surprising part of the Morrison murder investigation so far? What doesn’t surprise you?

“Put your hands up!” The officer was a white man about my height. In the darkness I could only make out his black uniform and his pointed weapon. I put my hands up and noticed that he seemed nervous. I don’t remember deciding to speak. I just remember the words coming out: “It’s all right. It’s okay.” I’m sure I sounded afraid because I was terrified.

What do you anticipate or expect when a police officer approaches you? What would you have done in the situation Bryan faced with the SWAT officers?

“All this grievin’ is hard. We can’t cheer for that man you trying to help but don’t want to have to grieve for him, too. There shouldn’t be no more killing behind this.”

Think of Rena Mae’s aunt: “We don’t want to have to grieve for him, too.” How does this perspective challenge your perception of justice and of community?

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