On Tuesday, December 3rd, Brother Martin High School concluded their 2019-2020 “Great Read” program with a Great Read Panel Discussion for students. Every school year the students and faculty participate in the “Great Read” program to have all students and faculty read the same book in order to help foster in our students the joy of reading while, hopefully, instilling in our entire school community ideals that challenge them to become critical thinkers and informed citizens.
This year’s book, Just Mercy, personalizes the struggle against injustice in the story of one activist lawyer, Bryan Stevenson. The narrative’s backbone is the story of Walter McMillian who Stevenson began representing in the late 1980s while he was on death row. While reading Just Mercy, students encountered and engaged in challenging conversations about social justice issues including racism, inequality, and mass incarceration.
Furthering their engagement and conversation, Brother Martin invited civic leaders in the New Orleans community to serve on a panel discussion in front of students from the Classes of 2022, 2021, and 2020. Earlier in the semester, students in their social studies classes submitted questions for panel members. The Great Read Panel Discussion focused on topics that were discussed in Just Mercy: mass incarceration, the death penalty, and juvenile sentencing.
Members of the Panel included:
Principal Ryan Gallagher ‘00 concluded the presentation, “Bryan Stevenson says, that ‘the true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.’ Our panelists this morning are paragons of high character, paragons that we can all strive to model ourselves after. Students, I want to thank you for the ways in which you've embraced and engaged with Just Mercy this year, and the ways in which you strive to reach out to the marginalized in our society - just as Andre' Coindre did throughout his life and in establishing the Institute of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart some 200 years ago.”
Thank you to all of the panel members for taking the time to participate in such an important conversation and conclusion for our school community’s Great Read. Also, thank you to all of the faculty members and students that helped plan and organize such a successful panel discussion.