Bryan Stevenson Lecture – Emily Ezell

Attending the Byran Stevenson lecture allowed me to clearly connect the themes of humes, the Montgomery study trip, and the reality of our society. The readings we discuss in the classroom improve my understanding of challenges, and conflicts through an academic perspective, but, as Stevenson strongly emphasized, we need to get proximate to these problems. The Montgomery study trip brought us closer to reality. We walked around historical sites to connect to the physical place. We attended the Legacy Museum to intellectually confront racial oppression. We visited the Equal Justice Initiative’s National Memorial for Peace and Justice to evoke an emotional response to the past. While the study trip brought us close to confronting past and present inequality, the Stevenson Lecture connected our classroom and field trip learnings to the real world and called every audience member to action. Stevenson proposed four key steps towards evoking change: (1) get proximate, (2), change the narrative, (3) stay hopeful, and (4) be willing to do uncomfortable, inconvenient things. First, proximity is powerful. It fosters connection through affirming the dignity and humanity of a historically marginalized people. We have to get up close to people to understand and connect the nature of problems. Second, we have to change the sustained narratives passed down to us that lack equality and justification. These narratives of fear and anger create a society of mistreatment, oppression, and excessive punishment. We must disregard these outdated narratives and replace them with more modern, flexible solutions. Next, we have to stay hopeful that change will come. Although it may appear like the easiest step, we face inexplicably difficult experiences that make us question our purpose. But, we must learn from the broken and grow out of brokenness to persevere. Lastly, change cannot occur without a willingness to make ourselves uncomfortable. We must face inconvenience and discomfort to truly witness reality, which allows us to overcome oppression and create change. Overall, my reflection on Byran Stevenson’s lecture and my connections to humes left me wanting to bring an element of external interaction to the humes curriculum. We focus so much on the importance of provoking change in a world of flaws, but we do nothing to act on these issues. I think all the humesters could benefit from following Stevenson’s four steps and serving the community. 

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