‘Just Mercy’: Beaverton book club tackles racial equity

Washington County

'One Book, One Beaverton' gave away 450 copies of 'Just Mercy'

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Beaverton is essentially holding a virtual book club for the whole city and gave away 450 copies of “Just Mercy,” which was recently adapted into a Hollywood movie with Jamie Foxx, Rob Morgan and Tim Blake Nelson.

The club, “One Book, One Beaverton” works off the premise, “What if all of Beaverton read the same book?” Their choice of “Just Mercy” goes along with their push for racial equity. Readers have had time to read the book, then spent January discussing it through a virtual series hosted by the Beaverton City Library.

“That thing with books and art and literature and art is it allows us to see and feel things through a lens of how somebody else sees and feels,” Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty said.

Beaverton Library Director Glenn Ferdman said the beauty of doing this through books “is that it takes ideas that might be abstract to people and brings it down to the personal level as stories can do.”

The book by Bryan Stevenson is a true story of how Stevenson, an attorney, defended those who were wrongly condemned or not afforded proper representation.

The keynote speaker for Saturday’s event is Bobbin Singh, the executive director of the Oregon Justice Resource Center. Singh told KOIN 6 News that, statistically a wrongly-convicted person is exonerated every 3 days in the US.

“I think the beauty of what the library is doing by making this conversation accessible, you know, allows us to be put on a trajectory of real culture change,” Singh said. “We can’t unwind 200 years of history in a week, a year, or even a couple of years. This will be a generational sort of effort.”

In Beaverton, they’re hoping to do that one book at a time.

“We need to be thinking outside of our own box and comfort zone on what we should be reading together,” Mayor Beaty said.

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