Bryan Stevenson is an attorney who has spent years trying to reform the justice system. He’s been recognized for his efforts by the ACLU (they gave him the National Medal of Liberty in 1991) and by the MacArthur Foundation (he received their “Genius” award in 1995), among others. But Bryan Stevenson became a household name (in enlightened houses) when he spoke at the annual TED Conference in Long Beach, California in 2012.
Stevenson was one of more than 60 speakers. But he and his speech stood out. In an engaging and personal talk, Stevenson shared “some hard truths about America’s justice system,” including this — “We have a system of justice in this country that treats you much better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent. Wealth – not culpability – shapes outcomes,” said Stevenson. His “level of candor, insight and persuasiveness” was effective. He received two standing ovations, and was able to raise more than $1 million at the conference to fund one of his campaigns “to end the practice of putting children in adult jails and prisons.” His speech went on TED’s website. It’s been watched more than 2.2 million times. Charlie Rose’s interview with Stevenson will air on 60 Minutes, April 19 at 7pm on CBS.