The Equal Justice Initiative, an Alabama-based nonprofit that challenges racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, released a vivid retelling of America’s direct transition from slavery to mass incarceration.

Illustrated by Molly Crabapple and written/narrated by EJI founder, Just Mercy author and all-around saintly man Bryan Stevenson (read more about his excellent work here, here and here), the video traces the twisted path of a familiar story whose continued retelling is desperately necessary—in part because it’s a story that many people still don’t want to hear.

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“The civil rights movements of the 1950s and 60s helped to end legally authorized racial segregation, but racial bias still persists,” Stevenson says.

“Today, a presumption of guilt is assigned to many people of color who are disproportionately arrested, convicted of crimes, and sent to prison. African-Americans are six times more likely to be sentenced to prison for the same crime as a white person. One in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.”

The narration concludes: “The Equal Justice Initiative believes that racial bias remains a serious problem and is a direct and lasting legacy of American slavery, and our failure to deal with the history of racial injustice.”


Contact the author at ellie@jezebel.com.