64 Bryan Stevenson Quotes On Success In Life

Bryan Stevenson is an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a law professor at New York University School of Law. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, Stevenson has challenged bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system, especially children. These Bryan Stevenson quotes will motivate you.

Best Bryan Stevenson Quotes

  1. “You ultimately judge the civility of a society not by how it treats the rich, the powerful, the protected and the highly esteemed, but by how it treats the poor, the disfavored and the disadvantaged.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  2. “You don’t change the world with the ideas in your mind, but with the conviction in your heart.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  3. “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation. Fear and anger can make us vindictive and abusive, unjust and unfair, until we all suffer from the absence of mercy and we condemn ourselves as much as we victimize others. The closer we get to mass incarceration and extreme levels of punishment, the more I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and-perhaps-we all need some measure of unmerited grace.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  4. “We have a system of justice in [the US] that treats you much better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. Wealth, not culpability, shapes outcomes.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  5. “Somebody has to stand when other people are sitting. Somebody has to speak when other people are quiet.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  6. “There is a strength, a power even, in understanding brokenness, because embracing our brokenness creates a need and desire for mercy, and perhaps a corresponding need to show mercy. When you experience mercy, you learn things that are hard to learn otherwise. You see things you can’t otherwise see; you hear things you can’t otherwise hear. You begin to recognize the humanity that resides in each of us.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  7. “I’ve come to understand and to believe that each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. I believe that for every person on the planet. I think if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. And because of that, there’s this basic human dignity that must be respected by law.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  8. “Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  9. “The opposite of poverty is not wealth. I don’t believe that. I actually think, in too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  10. “The greatest evil of American slavery was not involuntary servitude but rather the narrative of racial differences we created to legitimate slavery. Because we never dealt with that evil, I don’t think slavery ended in 1865, it just evolved.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  11. “In many ways, we’ve been taught to think that the real question is, do people deserve to die for the crimes they’ve committed? And that’s a very sensible question. But there’s another way of thinking about where we are in our identity. The other way of thinking about it is not, do people deserve to die for the crimes they commit, but do we deserve to kill?” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  12. “Always do the right thing even when the right thing is the hard thing” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  13. “Whenever society begins to create policies and laws rooted in fear and anger, there will be abuse and injustice.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  14. “We live in a country that talks about being the home of the brave and the land of the free, and we have the highest incarceration rate in the world.” ~ Bryan Stevenson quotes
  15. “We are all broken by something. We have all hurt someone and have been hurt. We all share the condition of brokenness even if our brokenness is not equivalent.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  16. “I think hopelessness is the enemy of justice.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  17. “The Bureau of Justice reports that one in three black male babies born this century will go to jail or prison – that is an absolutely astonishing statistic. And it ought to be terrorizing to not just to people of color, but to all of us.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  18. “You can’t demand truth and reconciliation. You have to demand truth – people have to hear it, and then they have to want to reconcile themselves to that truth.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  19. “But simply punishing the broken–walking away from them or hiding them from sight–only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  20. “If you love your community, then you need to be insisting on justice in all circumstances.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  21. “We’ve all been acculturated into accepting the inevitability of wrongful convictions, unfair sentences, racial bias, and racial disparities and discrimination against the poor.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  22. “I don’t think there’s been a time in American history with more innocent people in prison.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  23. “We don’t need police officers who see themselves as warriors. We need police officers who see themselves as guardians and parts of the community. You can’t police a community that you’re not a part of.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  24. “It’s that mind-heart connection that I believe compels us to not just be attentive to all the bright and dazzling things but also the dark and difficult things.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  25. “The reality is that capital punishment in America is a lottery. It is a punishment that is shaped by the constraints of poverty, race, geography and local politics.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  26. “Why do we want to kill all the broken people?” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  27. “Intuitively we all like to seek the things that are comfortable rather than uncomfortable. But I do think there is a way of saying that if I believe in justice and I believe that justice is a constant struggle, and if I want to create justice, then I have to get comfortable with struggle.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  28. “My parents, who grew up in terror and dealt with segregation and humiliation, nonetheless taught us to be hopeful and open and loving and not hateful toward anyone.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  29. “We all have a responsibility to create a just society” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  30. “Knowing what I know about the people who have come before me, and the people who came before them, and what they had to do, it changes my capacity to stay engaged, to stay productive.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  31. “When you come to Montgomery, you see fifty-nine monuments and memorials, all about the Civil War, all about Confederate leaders and generals. We have lionized these people, and we have romanticized their courage and their commitment and their tenacity, and we have completely eliminated the reality that created the Civil War.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  32. “You can be a career professional as a judge, a prosecutor, sometimes as a defense attorney, and never insist on fairness and justice. That’s tragic and that’s what we have to change.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  33. “If you’re just the person with power, exercising that power fearfully and angrily, you’re going to be an operative of injustice and inequality.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  34. “The death penalty symbolizes whom we fear and don’t fear, whom we care about and whose lives are not valid.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  35. “Embracing a certain quotient of racial bias and discrimination against the poor is an inexorable aspect of supporting capital punishment. This is an immoral condition that makes rejecting the death penalty on moral grounds not only defensible but necessary for those who refuse to accept unequal or unjust administration of punishment.” ~ Bryan Stevenson quotes
  36. “Many states can no longer afford to support public education, public benefits, public services without doing something about the exorbitant costs that mass incarceration have created.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  37. “Sometimes the facts of the crime are so distracting – there’s been some tragic murder or horrific incident, and people aren’t required to think as carefully and thoughtfully, and directly, about this legacy of racial inequality and structural poverty. And what it’s contributing to these wrongful convictions.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  38. “In most places, when people hear about or see something that is a symbol or representation or evidence of slavery or the slave trade or lynching, the instinct is to cover it up, to get rid of it, to destroy it.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  39. “I have to get comfortable with resistance, and even sometimes with hostility.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  40. “If we want to be proud of our country, if we want to be proud as Americans, if we want to be proud of our history, then we can’t talk about the things that are inconsistent with pride, about which we can have no pride.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  41. “Lynching is an important aspect of racial history and racial inequality in America because it was visible, it was so public, it was so dramatic, and it was so violent.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  42. “I think there is a contempt for the human dignity of people who were enslaved. You couldn’t see them as fully human and so you didn’t respect their desire to be connected to a family and a place. That was the only way you could tolerate and make sense of lynching and the terror that lynching represented.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  43. If you love your country, then you need to be thinking a lot more critically about what justice.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  44. “Living in Montgomery, I’ve been antagonized by the emergence of a narrative about our history that I believe is quite false and misleading, and actually dangerous. And the narrative that emerges when you spend time in the South – places likes Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana – is that we have always been a noble, wonderful, glorious region of the country, with wonderful, noble, glorious people doing wonderful, noble, glorious things. And there’s great pride in the Alabamians of the nineteenth century.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  45. “Finally I got to the point where I said, I’d like to start a project where we can actually talk about race and poverty, not through the lens of a particular case, but much more broadly.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  46. “All of our survival is tied to the survival of everyone.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  47. “When I stepped into this world, I saw that we were all burdened by a certain kind of indifference to the plight of poor people. We were burdened by an insensitivity to a legacy of racial bias. We were tolerating unfairness and unreliability in a way that burdened me and provoked me.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  48. “Because my great-grandparents were enslaved people, the legacy of slavery was something that didn’t seem impersonal or disconnected. That’s what motivated me to get into law.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  49. “That’s what’s provocative to me – that we can victimize people, we can torture and traumatize people with no consciousness that it is a shameful thing to do.” ~ Bryan Stevenson quotes
  50. “There were people in the South who were ardently opposed to slavery. And maybe, if we get into truth and reconciliation, those will be the people we want to name schools and streets after.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  51. “Are you the sum total of your worst acts?” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  52. “Part of the reason why we’re only now reaching a point in American society where we can talk about the need for truth and reconciliation and the legacy of slavery is that it was such a dominant part of our history.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  53. “I do talk and think a lot about the legacy before me. I feel like if I didn’t know that people had been in Montgomery sixty years ago trying to do similar things that I’m trying to do, with a lot less, with fewer resources, with less security, with less encouragement, with less opportunity – if I didn’t know that, then I think doing what I do would be much, much harder.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  54. “I love museums, and I think they’re fantastic, but they don’t touch the people who I frequently think need to be touched with at least some reminder of legacy.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  55. “I’m persuaded that if most people saw what I see on a regular basis, they would want change.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  56. “Montgomery’s unique role in the domestic slave trade was that it was the first community that had a rail line that connected the Deep South to the mid-Atlantic region.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  57. “I talk about my grandmother a lot because she’s an amazing person – not in some dramatic, distinct, unique way, but anybody who is the daughter of enslaved people and who has found a way to be hopeful and create love and value justice and seek peace is a remarkable person.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  58. “It can be a challenge, but my legacy, at least for the people who came before me, is you don’t run from challenges because that’s more comfortable and convenient.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  59. My parents lived in a poor rural community on the Eastern Shore, and schools were still segregated. And I remember when lawyers came into our community to open up the public schools to black kids.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  60. “The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

  61. “Once we had a rail station in Montgomery that connected to Columbus and went all the way up to Virginia, slave traders could transport thousands of slaves at a fraction of the cost than they could transport by boat, and certainly by foot. And that’s how Montgomery became such an active slave-trading space.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  62. “I say this thing about how I’ve never had to say my head is bloodied but not bowed, like everybody who came before me had to say. And that tells me that I can do a lot more than I think I can.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  63. “The landscape in Montgomery and in the South is just saturated with imagery. Markers are everywhere. There’s a marker for the first Confederate post office, there’s a marker for a ball that Robert E. Lee hosted, there’s a marker for where Jefferson Davis had a meeting. We love reminding people about all that was going on in the mid-nineteenth century.” ~ Bryan Stevenson
  64. “In a landscape littered with all of this imagery about the nobility of the Civil War and the Confederate effort and struggle, the absence of markers says something really powerful.” ~ Bryan Stevenson

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