Reading the first few pages really captured my attention. The story begins with the principal character; Bryan; traveling down I-75 south of Atlanta. This initial background was the breaking point for me as this was going to be a good read. I grew up south of Atlanta in a small rural town; Macon, GA. So, I thought this could be interesting if this was going to be based around the area where I grew up and just moved from. As the chapter progressed, Bryan talked about his experience with his internship. He is currently studying at Harvard Law and trying to figure out a plan to conquer his goals after graduation. He considers different opportunities he can take to help plan out his law career. Thinking of the bigger picture he had to realize sometimes you have to do the dirty jobs in order to elevate yourself in the real world. But how does this have a significant impact for the rest of the book?
His internship was based at Southern Prisoners Defense Committee (SPDC) where he learned all about legal practices. He learned how his decisions can be an impact. One day he had to go talk to an individual to tell him (Henry) the consequences he must face. He was an African American male that when Bryan came in to speak to him he wanted to know if he had an execution date. Bryan thought that was odd because that was the first question that was asked. Bryan proceeded to tell him not within the year. Henry was full of joy. Why? He told his wife to not come with the children because he did not want to jinx himself for execution. They proceeded to talk and connect for nearly three hours when finally, the prison guard came in upset because Bryan had far exceeded the hour appointment. Bryan did not appreciate how criminals were treated, but is it part of their punishment? He concluded, it sure is. As time went on, why does he want an opportunity to work with them? This will teach him the fundamentals of how and why certain individuals are on death row for the crimes committed. He did not appreciate the thought of going to talk to criminals, but this offered the opportunity of how this is going to be his job one day. He had to learn that this job is only a stepping stone, and experience is a must for any opportunity in his future.
He began speaking with the temporary receptionist who was an elegant African American female. She was wearing business attire, while Bryan was dressed in jeans and tennis shoes. After graduation, Bryan came back to work at SPDC in Atlanta on a full-time basis. It was his first day; he received a transfer call from Judge Robert E. Lee telling him not to be on trial with Walter MacMillan. He did not think anything of it, but Judge Lee made him wonder? Not how he wanted to spend his first work day, but that is the real world for any job. “I was in my late twenties and about to start my fourth year at the SPDC when I met Walter McMillian. His case was one of the flood of cases Bryan found himself assigned. Shortly thereafter he learned of a growing crisis in Alabama. How? The state had nearly a hundred people on death row as well as the fastest-growing condemned population in the country. In addition, there was no public defender system, which meant that large numbers of death row prisoners had no legal representation. This lack of representation was a big issue for Bryan as to whether or not he wanted to represent Walter. Walter had always stayed clear of the courts and far away from the law. Years earlier, Walter had been drawn into a bar fight that resulted in a misdemeanor conviction and a night in jail. It was the first and only time he had ever been in trouble. From that point on, he had no exposure to the criminal justice system. Maybe this is why Bryan wanted to represent him? Time progressed and a lady was murdered at a local store which caused a major dispute within the entire community. Businesses posted rewards for the arrest and conviction of Ronda’s killer. Why? There was no evidence to indict Walter as the killer, or not. They want to find the criminal.
Bryan decided to move out of Steve Bright’s apartment where he had lived for a year and a half. He wanted to learn how to save money instead of just throwing it away once he got his first paycheck. So, his friend from his college came into town and they decided to live together. They learned how to save money as well as pay for their necessities. As time went on, Bryan was assigned cases between Georgia and Alabama, which caused a lot of travel lot. One night he was just wanting to think, so he sat in his car pondering cases outside his apartment. A patrolman pulled arrived, and searched Bryan’s entire vehicle. The police made quite a scene, resulting in neighbors coming out to see what the commotion was as the neighborhood was suffering break ins. They wanted to know if they the police had caught the criminal. With time being, he proceeded to work the next day to tell his boss about the confused situation. His boss told him to file his complaint with the police department. A curious direction, but his boss wanted him to see if he could handle the situation. He then filed the report with Atlanta Police Department.
This was an intense chapter as Walter was found guilty which shocked everyone. The family thought that Walter had nothing to do with the killing of Ronda. They told everyone that Walter was home working on the car. But was that the real truth? The family said they were having a cook out where Walter was there to participate. They did not think he would do any sort of crime. How did this happen? It was a cover up because the traffic was back all the way up towards Walters house. This was not suspicious for anyone. He went to trial and they convicted him as guilty for killings Ronda. He did not like the locks on his ankles. This was not an experience he wanted to live but he has to suffer the consequences when wanting to kill someone. How and why are often questions that Walter asked himself as he goes through this journey.
After analyzing this book of the how’s and why’s it really made me think about my generation. I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood and also went to school with all kinds of backgrounds. It was neat to see that we all came together to learn throughout our elementary, middle, and high school years. We never had an innocent that was really “racist” or along that lines. This made me think as I have grown up that racism is still in our lives but why should that matter? We see mixed couples but so what? We see that color is still an issue but it can be easily resolved if we just do not tie everything with the color of our skin. I have reflected on this matter for a while because I know my grandparents would not like it if I brought home someone that was different from me. But, that is just part of their generation. I 100% do not agree that we relate everything back to race. This world is already so stereotypical that it is so unreal. We judge everyone that we come in contact with. We wonder what others think about us. The list keeps going on and on.
After reading Just Mercy it really taught me about how and why I can apply this to my leadership journey. This book was full of skills that has taught me a significant amount. Especially learning to adapt to your emotions, first impressions, and overall being a well- rounded leader. This book was full of justice and redemption. Just Mercy taught me a significant amount that I will use to further my leadership journey!