RR Book Group: Just Mercy Week 1


Over the next few weeks, we’ll be reading and discussing Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy together. Every Tuesday, we’ll post a few questions inspired by the week’s reading. 

Even if you haven’t read all the chapters, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts and responses either in the comments below or on this forum thread. Before we get started, a few housekeeping things…

Ready? Here are some questions from this week’s reading. We’re looking at the Introduction, and Chapters 1 through 4, highlighting the beginning of Stevenson’s career and the Morrison investigation and trial.

Henry gave me a smile and said, “It’s okay, Bryan. Don’t worry about this. Just come back and see me again, okay?” I could see him wince with each click of the chains being tightened around his waist.

Stevenson remarked that Henry looked like everyone he’d grown up with. Do prisoners look like people we know? Do they look like us?

But there was no evidence against McMillan — no evidence except that he was an African American man involved in an adulterous interracial affair, which meant he was reckless and possibly dangerous, even if he had no prior criminal history and a good reputation. Maybe that was evidence enough.

What is the most surprising part of the Morrison murder investigation so far? What doesn’t surprise you?

“Put your hands up!” The officer was a white man about my height. In the darkness I could only make out his black uniform and his pointed weapon.

I put my hands up and noticed that he seemed nervous. I don’t remember deciding to speak. I just remember the words coming out: “It’s all right. It’s okay.”

I’m sure I sounded afraid because I was terrified.

What do you anticipate or expect when a police officer approaches you? What would you have done in the situation Bryan faced with the SWAT officers?

“All this grievin’ is hard. We can’t cheer for that man you trying to help but don’t want to have to grieve for him, too. There shouldn’t be no more killing behind this.”

Think of Rena Mae’s aunt: “We don’t want to have to grieve for him, too.” How does this perspective challenge your perception of justice and of community?

Click here to join the conversation at the forum, and find the Book Group Introduction and Reading Schedule here.

Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.


  1. Pete Peterson