“Just Mercy” Selected as 2019-20 Common Book

May 16, 2019


  • “Just Mercy” is an unforgettable true story of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age.
  • Students will talk about the book in their ACAD freshman class and continue conversations in their residence halls and in other settings across the campus.

Common Book 2019 - Just Mercy

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Winthrop University’s new students will read “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson this summer and then discuss the best-selling book throughout the year as the 2019-20 Common Book.

“Just Mercy” is an unforgettable true story of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Incoming freshmen and transfer students will receive the book at Orientation sessions in June so they can read it prior to their arrival on campus, said Gloria Jones, dean of University College. Students will talk about the book in their ACAD freshman class, continue conversations in their residence halls, discuss it in more depth when they take the Human Experience course and when they attend Common Book cultural events provided throughout the school year.

Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Esquire and Time, “Just Mercy” highlights the efforts of a young man who unexpectedly discovers a life mission. 

Stevenson was a new lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most in need of legal assistance: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of the country’s criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to death for a murder he swore he did not commit. The case drew Stevenson into a web of conspiracy and lies that changed forever his understanding of mercy and justice.

Winthrop’s Common Book Project does more than provide a common intellectual experience for first-year students, Jones said. First begun in 2004, it is one of many programs designed to support student success during the transition to college life. It also intentionally connects to the university’s goal of gaining an awareness and understanding of different perspectives. 

“This book continues our mission of bringing issues of personal, regional and national importance into the classroom where our students can grapple with challenging questions facing us as responsible citizens,” Jones said.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at longshawj@winthrop.edu or at 803/323-2404.

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