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  • Meghan Leavitt

Suffering Injustice and Black Liberation

Meghan Leavitt

Anthony Ray Hinton was exonerated after 30 years on death row. He now spends his time travelling around the country sharing his experience with students. Not only does he share his story through speech, but he wrote a book “The Sun Does Shine How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice.”

Hinton visited the Mount Jan. 8 to attend our Black History Month Keynote Event. Sharing his story of his 30 years of being incarcerated and survived Alabama’s death row. Father Martin Moran opened the event with a prayer and a wonderful introduction was given by President Timothy Trainor.

Hinton’s discussion allowed for students to understand his struggles and hardships through his 30 years of incarceration. One of the many things that moved people was his discussion about his challenges and journey with faith. He was a man who was raised Christian by his mother and continued to follow not only her words to how she raised him but Gods word. These two things are what he claims to have carried him through the many years he spent on death row.

The history of the criminal justice system has been known to target male African Americans. Tragically, he was a victim to being stereotyped and was arrested not because the officers and the court system believed he committed the kidnapping and murders but because they were focused on race. Hinton’s story is important to be spoken about and remembered during Black History Month because it shows the struggles African Americans face here in America.

One of Hinton’s goals when sharing his story is focused on putting an end to the death penalty. There are hundreds of thousands of people in the United States are sentenced to the death penalty a year. Many people have been in the same place as Hinton and have experienced unjust rulings for the death penalty.

Many students have felt moved by his experiences. This is not just from his speech but from his novel as well. An anonymous student who read the book said, “When I read this book I felt moved and it had reminded me of the book “Just Mercy”. I had not yet realized that these stories were connected until I heard him speak about it today. I think is story is something everyone should hear. It has inspired many.”

Another student, Isabelle Ringeval (C’26) said, “It was very moving and opened people’s eyes about how cruel and biased our criminal justice system is in America.” Nicole Campos-Villaran (C’26) said in an interview, “Inspirational but heartbreaking, knowing how some states are willing to treat people differently just because of their skin color.”

Angel Ellis (C’25) not only attended the Universities event but bought the book as well. After the event she said, “When attending the event Mr. Anthony voice and story was impactful about the legal system of the death penalty for his wrongfully imprison.” She found it interesting that, “He had an alibi at work and witnesses but was still imprison.  The court of Alabama for his case solidarity judge him and lock him up based on his ethnicity with throwing the facts out the window.”

You can hear more about Hinton’s story and experiences “Equal Justice Initiative” website. This is a website founded by Bryan Stevenson and is a non-profit organization that provides legal representation for those who have been wrongfully convicted and unfairly sentenced. Working together Hinton and Stevenson have a goal to challenge the economic and racial injustices in the system along with ending mass incarceration.

Mike Miller


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