Throughout my college career, I’ve attended a plethora of literary events, on and off-campus. Sometimes I attended these events because I was heavily interested in the topic, and other times I went just so that I have something to do. As a book worm, I am never one to pass up an opportunity to go listen to an artist to speak about their piece. To do so would seem, unethical. Well, at least to me, but that’s besides the point. Amazingly, it was when I went to these “unintended” events that I had the best experiences. At each of these events, I got the chance to hear about people’s experiences, which is often the best way to learn about other cultures. Sometimes, even about your own. So many things are happening in this world at the same time, that not everybody can cover it all. its when I attend these events that I can expand my knowledge of various cultures, and broaden my thinking to connect with a world of people I never thought possible. All of this is to say, that I wasn’t entirely sure about attending the trip to see Just Mercy (the movie adaption of a novel written by Bryan Stevenson), but just like every other time before I was pleasantly surprised. Though unlike every time before, I was shaken to my core.
As a young African American, I’m often taught about my history from the voices of a family and community, for much of it isn’t taught traditionally; School. So getting a chance to see Just Mercy, which was a biographical picture, was truly eye-opening. When I went to see this film I never expected to see just how deep the corruption goes in our judicial system. The novel focuses on the struggles that are faced by an African American lawyer and several wrongfully convicted death-row inmates. The pain and anguish that they go through are gut-wrenching, but the fact that it was all real, breaks my heart. Sitting in that theater, watching what was happening to those men, made me cry. It was just so inhumane and honestly unbelievable. Sadly, what makes the whole ordeal even worse, is that some of these people are still in jail. Serving time for something they didn’t do, all while having the looming fear that every day could be there last. It gave me such a deep appreciation for the time that I have, and the freedoms that I possess. Though more than anything, it made me more aware of aspects of my history that are unknown to a majority of the populace.
While literature can act as a window into the lives of other cultures, sometimes it can be used just as effectively to look into our past. I am not much of a history buff. In fact, I often fell asleep in history classes throughout High School. Yet, when I went to this event, I was able to find another media by which to learn about the past. While the previous events that I attended allowed me to gain more information about other people from other cultures, this event allowed me to learn more about myself. The people that I come from, and the struggles that we’ve faced in the past unto today.