True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality is the winner of a Peabody Award, the program’s Board of Jurors announced today. The Peabodys honor the most powerful, enlightening, and invigorating stories in television, radio, and digital media.
The Peabody Awards named 30 programs as the most compelling and empowering stories released in broadcasting and digital media during 2019. True Justice was chosen out of nearly 1,300 entries from television, radio/podcasts, and the web in entertainment, news, documentary, children’s, and public service programming.
The documentary follows 30 years of EJI’s work on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Told primarily in his own words, True Justice shares Bryan Stevenson’s experience with a criminal justice system that “treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.”
In True Justice, Bryan Stevenson “makes the irrefutable case for the direct line drawn from enslavement to lynching to the death penalty, and ultimately the criminalization of being Black,” the Peabody Awards writes. “For helping viewers understand how the courts and law enforcement have been at the forefront of creating, codifying, and perpetuating racial inequality throughout American history, and for bearing witness to the dedication of the remarkable man working to free the victims of this system, True Justice receives a Peabody.”
Since the first Peabodys were awarded in 1941, the prestigious award has recognized excellence in quality storytelling, with a focus on socially conscious stories that change the narrative on critical issues including racism, criminal justice, women’s rights, and the environment.
“This year’s winners are a vibrant collective of inspiring, innovative, and powerful stories. True to the spirit and legacy of Peabody, our winners are also distinguished by the presence and resilience of many emerging and diverse voices,” said Jeffrey P. Jones, executive director of Peabody.
About the Film
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality follows 30 years of EJI’s work on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned.
Told primarily in his own words, True Justice shares Bryan Stevenson’s experience with a criminal justice system that “treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent.” The burden of facing this system is explored in candid interviews with associates, close family members, and clients.
This feature documentary focuses on Bryan Stevenson’s life and career—particularly his indictment of the U.S. criminal justice system for its role in codifying modern systemic racism—and tracks the intertwined histories of slavery, lynching, segregation and mass incarceration. Highlighting watershed moments involving cases and clients, True Justice offers a rare glimpse into the human struggle that is required when the poor and people of color are wrongly condemned or unfairly sentenced, and explores the personal toll it takes.
The film chronicles EJI’s work in Alabama as well as the early influences that drove Bryan Stevenson to become an advocate for the poor and the incarcerated. As a young lawyer in the 1980s, he witnessed firsthand how courts unfairly applied the death penalty based on race and how the Supreme Court ultimately declared that racial bias in the administration of the death penalty was “inevitable.”
Tracing the trajectory of the Court since the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which ruled that African Americans are not citizens, True Justice shows how the Court has long sanctioned inequality, oppression, and violence. Illuminating the power of memory in cultural change, the film instills hope for a brighter American future.
The film also documents the monumental opening of EJI’s Legacy Museum and its National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which is dedicated to the more than 4,400 African American victims of lynching. These sites are part of EJI’s effort to engage the nation in a new era of truth and justice. As part of the campaign, EJI is working with communities to recognize lynching victims by collecting soil from lynching sites and erecting historical markers.
True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality reveals a history that can’t be forgotten in the pursuit of genuine justice.
NAMIC Vision Award Winner
On Wednesday, May 8, the National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) announced that True Justice is the winner of its 26th annual Vision Award in the documentary category.
The premier organization focusing on cultural diversity, equity, and inclusion in the communications industry, NAMIC’s Vision Awards honor programming that reflects the lives, spirit, and contributions of people of color that mirror the diverse composition of the viewing audience.