“Just Mercy” — based on Bryan Stevenson’s award-winning book of the same name — will be premiering at theaters around the country on January 10.
The movie embodies the mission of forgiveness and redemption for people who have been incarcerated, and demands a fair legal system, free of extreme sentences. It underscores that one of the basic American rights — the right to meaningful counsel — is still dependent on access which is all too often determined by who you are and where you live.
To honor the momentous efforts of Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative he founded, congregations and organizations around the country are participating in Justice Weekend. Justice Weekend is a nationwide campaign of faith leaders who will preach, teach, and share about themes of justice and mercy in their worship services on the weekends of January 4-5 and 11-12 surrounding the January 10 release.
Congregations and organizations will also be encouraged to see the film together, then discuss how the themes of justice and mercy in the film impact their own communities and ways that they can take action together to address systemic issues of injustice, poverty, and racism.
Next steps you can take
Here are some suggested activities:
1. Teach or preach about justice and mercy
For clergy members, focus your sermons, organizational meetings and more on the themes of justice and mercy and criminal justice reform.
2. See “Just Mercy” with a group
Take a group to see the film together when it opens nationwide on Friday, January
10. Go to www.justmercyfilm.com/groupsales for details. In addition to the above, consider inviting members, friends and neighbors to come together to watch “13th” or “When They See Us.”
3. Organize a community remembrance coalition
Communities across the country are joining together to document racial terror lynchings by organizing soil collections, installing historical markers, and starting the process of claiming their county’s monument from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.
For information about ways to engage on this issue, visit: www.eji.org/projects/community-remembrance-project/
4. Support prison chaplains
Chaplains are responsible for facilitating programs that provide spiritual and emotional needs for the almost 2.2 million incarcerated men and women in the nation. You can invest in their lives and build a relationship with them by volunteering to help set up for events or do clerical work. You can also invite chaplains to attend your prison ministry events.
5. Support education for incarcerated people
Many people behind bars lack basic life skills such as financial literacy, healthy relationships, parenting, employability soft skills and anger management. The bipartisan
Restoring Education and Learning Act (REAL) Act would reverse the 1994 ban on federal financial aid for incarcerated people.
On and around Justice Weekend, urge your representatives in Congress to support the REAL Act.
6. Support organizations fighting for justice and mercy
Consider making a donation to organizations that fighting for justice and mercy. The organization highlighted in the film, the Equal Justice Initiative, can be found at www.EJI.org.
Visit: www.representjustice.com/justicesunday to sign up to participate in this program. You can also connect with others on social media via #justiceweekend, @werepjustice, @vpiconsulting, and @justmercyfilm.