Ujamaa Place Secures Pre-Screening Rights for Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy

Celebrating ten years of Social and Criminal Justice Advocacy, Ujamaa Place will release a limited amount of pre-release screening tickets for "Just Mercy" taking place on January 3rd, followed by community discussion moderated by Attorney General Keith Ellison with criminal justice reform context and analysis by Attorney Jerry Blackwell.
By: Ujamaa Place
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SAINT PAUL, Minn. - Dec. 24, 2019 - PRLog -- "Just Mercy" tells the story of Bryan Stevenson and his history-making battles for justice in Alabama. One of his most incendiary cases is that of Walter McMillian, a black man wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Bryan refuses to back down as he fights to prove Walter's innocence, with the system stacked against them. "Just Mercy" will draw you in, make you think and open your heart.

Ujamaa Place has been on the front lines of social and criminal justice advocacy in Minnesota focused on the most marginalized population, African American men aged 18-30, who have lived a life of system poverty and survival on the streets. Many Ujamaa men have experience with the criminal justice system.  Though Minnesota does not have a death penalty penal system, it ranks amongst the highest in the nation in mass incarceration of African American, Native American and Hispanic men.   Ujamaa Place wraps stabilization services around the men in its Theory of Transformation logic model to restore hope and dreams of a prosperous life, where they can take care of their family and community.

"I can't think of a better way to begin our year of celebrating 10 years of service to the community than to see Bryan Stevenson's story told in the "Just Mercy" film with the men of Ujamaa Place," said Ujamaa Place President/CEO Otis Zanders.  "We cannot call our nation the greatest in the world, when our rate of incarceration exceeds every nation and reveals disturbing racial and ethnic disparities particularly amongst Black, Hispanic and Native Americans," continued Mr. Zanders.

Our nation is at a unique moment of reckoning on mass incarceration and criminal justice reform. The screening will be followed by a panel and community discussion that presents an unique opportunity 1) to discuss the ways that racial bias and discrimination permeates our systems based on what was viewed in the film; and to 2) discuss ways to mobilize communities to work together for change and the good of all members of society.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison will moderate a community discussion immediately following the screening, telling the story of Max Mason, who was among a group of black circus workers wrongly accused in the sexual assault of a white Duluth woman in 1920.  Last week, Minnesota's Pardon Board approved a request that could clear the way for Mason's posthumous pardon, a move supporters say would restore justice for a man they believe was falsely accused in a horrific and shameful episode in Minnesota history.  "I think we can try to rectify the problems of the past.  This is one of those occasions where justice delayed may not be justice denied," said Attorney General Keith Ellison, one of three members of the board.  Attorney Jerry Blackwell will provide context and analysis of what criminal justice reform means for the citizens of Minnesota.

Tickets are available to the community for a donation of $25 at ujamaaplace.org.  The screening is supported by the Minneapolis Foundation and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation.  All proceeds support Ujamaa Place Theory of Transformation.


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