True Justice documentary: “eye opening,” “amazing”

Prof. Anthony White teaches criminal justice at Illinois Central College; he invited several of his students to write brief statements about their reaction to the documentary “True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality.”

A free public screening in November was sponsored by Community Word, Peoria NAACP and ICC Department of Diversity & Community Impact. The screening was introduced by Prof. White and the Rev. Marvin Hightower, president Peoria NAACP.

Michael Martinek, Chillicothe:

I thought that the documentary brought a very powerful and visual message on how our prison system is (broken) down in the southern states. It really touched me in the case of the one inmate who suffered from mental impairment, was facing the death penalty and was convicted. The lawyer (Bryan Stevenson) tried so hard to save that inmate’s life, but try after try the court deemed for the execution. In the last phone call, the inmate told his lawyer with a stutter that he wanted to thank him for doing everything he could, but when all else failed, the system failed entirely. Then it was all over and the inmate died. That really brought me to a sad point that we need to do something with the way the system is and if that means voting out the bad politicians we need to send a message that capital punishment can be wrong in certain circumstances.

Emilie Shidler, Morton:

After watching the documentary tonight, it was very eye opening to me. Growing up in a small town in Indiana where the population was all white, our school never taught us much about lynching or slavery. Our history books just told us about how slaves were used to pick cotton, as well as perform chores around the house and sometimes the women slaves had their master’s child. I never knew how bad they were treated until tonight. Currently, in my family I have two adopted cousins who are from Africa. As Dr. White talked about “feeling Pastor Hightower’s pain” (and how) “they were both hurting,” I can now understand a little bit about that. I’ve noticed the amount of racism that is around the Morton and Peoria area for white adults to have Black children. I’ve been questioned as to why I would have a Black child in a store, and I’ve witnessed first-hand the nastiness that humans have in our society today. We need to take a stand and change our community for the better. This is something that needs to change for our younger generations. If we can’t get the start of something going soon, we may not be able to help because society will be too far gone.

Tanae Driggers, East Peoria:

The event that occurred was an amazing one. It gave everyone who was there a different insight in what’s going on in the world. It talked about how the world treats a certain race. I personally believe that it’s a hard subject because most people feel uncomfortable when it’s brought up. When in fact this topic needs to be talked about more often so that the issue doesn’t keep happening. We need change because so many things have gone unchecked. As people, we need to give everyone a fair shot in life and not be biased.

Emily Wagner:

I really thought the film was eye opening, it really shed more light on issues that started way back and have evolved into issues in today’s world. It also gave me more background on issues that were lightly talked about, for example the lynchings of (Black) people for things like not saying “sir” to a white man. Also, with racism and how it affected them especially when they would be targeted in the criminal justice system. This made me want to help and/or change those biases in the field when I get into my career. Overall, the film was very informative and I recommend that this be shown to many others as well.

If you missed our screening of TRUE JUSTICE, the film will be available to view online towards the end of 2019 via the Kunhardt Film Foundation website. If you are interested in hosting your own screening of the film, please contact

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