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An Unconventional Mix: Criminal Justice Reform Leader Bryan Stevenson to Address 5,000+ Museum Professionals in St. Louis

Category: Press Release


January 30, 2017

Photo: Bryan Stevenson
Bryan Stevenson

ARLINGTON, VA–What does racial and economic injustice have in common with the mission of museums? Museum professionals from across the United States and abroad will explore this connection with Bryan Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, when he speaks at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) 2017 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, to be held in St. Louis May 7-10.

Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated, and the condemned. Under his leadership, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), based in Montgomery, Alabama, has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults.

Stevenson’s work fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system has won him numerous awards. He is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government, and has been awarded 26 honorary doctorate degrees. He is the author of the award winning and New York Times best selling book, Just Mercy. In 2015, Stevenson was named to the Time 100 recognizing the world’s most influential people. Recently, he was named in Fortune’s 2016 World’s Greatest Leaders list.

So where’s the museum connection? For starters, in 2017 EJI is slated to open a new African American history museum in Montgomery, From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, that explores the legacy of slavery, racial terrorism, segregation, and contemporary issues of mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and police violence.

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What’s more, many museums are increasingly playing a role in addressing community tensions through serving as venues for dialog, as places of healing, or by acting as advocates for social justice. In this role, museums can help society reexamine the history and current practice of justice in the US.  This role for museums in their communities is core to the St. Louis meeting theme, “Gateways to Understanding: Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion in Museums.” The Alliance invites museum professionals to join in the dialogue: how is your museum working toward a more just society?

EJI helped win an historic 2012 ruling in the US Supreme Court holding that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for all children age 17 or younger are unconstitutional.

The largest gathering of museum professionals in the world, the Annual Meeting attracts leaders and decisionmakers from a wide range of cultural institutions that include art, history, and science museums; military and maritime museums; children’s museums; aquariums, zoos, arboretums, and botanical gardens; and historic homes and sites.

The 2017 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo is made possible with generous support from Blackbaud, the Getty Foundation, GEICO, Huntington T. Block, Northern Trust, and Travelers Insurance.

More details are available at, and you can follow the event on Facebook ( and Twitter at #AAM2017.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 30,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit


Media Contact:

Joseph Klem
Director, Public Relations
American Alliance of Museums

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