Books

Seating at ‘Just Mercy’ author event will be limited to WSU students and faculty

Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer, social justice activist and author of “Just Mercy,” will speak at Wichita State University on Thursday.
Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer, social justice activist and author of “Just Mercy,” will speak at Wichita State University on Thursday. New York Times

Unless you’re a Wichita State University student, faculty or staff member, you might not get to see author Bryan Stevenson in person Thursday.

Stevenson, a social justice activist and author of the best-selling memoir, “Just Mercy,” will speak on campus as part of this year’s WSU Reads program at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Wilner Auditorium.

But contrary to an earlier report, auditorium seating will not be open to the general public.

Caitlin Putnal, WSU’s coordinator of first-year programs, said officials are expecting a large turnout for the event “just because he is so popular,” so seating in Wilner Auditorium will be reserved for WSU faculty, staff and students.

Members of the general public will be directed toward seats in the Wilner commons or at the Ulrich Museum of Art on campus, where the event will be live-streamed, Putnal said.

Members of the public may attend a breakfast and book signing prior to the event at the Ulrich Museum, from 8 to 9:15 a.m. Thursday, she said. Stevenson’s keynote at Wilner also will be live-streamed and available for viewing afterward on the university’s YouTube channel.

Stevenson, 58, is a lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative. The Alabama-based non-profit legal practice defends those most desperate and in need, including prisoners who may have been wrongly convicted or denied a fair trial.

Stevenson’s memoir, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption,” is this year’s selection for WSU Reads, a common-reading program designed to get students, faculty members and others in the community to read the same book and talk about the issues it raises.

It was selected by Time magazine as one of the “10 Best Books of Nonfiction” for 2014 and was among the New York Times “ 100 Notable Books” for the year.

The Wichita Eagle's Suzanne Tobias sat down with writer Sarah Smarsh at the Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine to chat about Smarsh's new book "Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth."

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