Walking down a moonlit main street in Montgomery, Alabama, a sign beside a park bench reminds the visitor: this is where Rosa Parks took the bus in 1955 and declined to give up her seat to a white person, leading to the Montgomery bus boycott. Just a few more yards and a bronze statue of a petite woman is perched on the corner.

The memorial is Rosa Parks, celebrated for her courage with a civic monument that was put up on Dec. 1, 2019. Yes, this December.

The past feels present everywhere in Montgomery, Alabama, where civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson set up his Equal Justice Initiative 30 years ago, tilting at the windmills of the deep South; he fights to win the release of poor and black people from death row.

The story of how he did that is the tale of “Just Mercy,” based on his book of the same name, in which Stevenson (played by Michael B. Jordan) fights a system seemingly indifferent to justice when it comes to poor African Americans. The Warner Bros. film tells the story of Walter McMillian, an African American logger accused and convicted of murdering a white woman on the basis of two coerced confessions, no physical evidence and despite a dozen alibi witnesses. McMillian (played by Jamie Foxx) was quickly sent to death row where he would undoubtedly have been killed without Stevenson’s efforts.

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