Lessons in True Justice

The faculty and staff at St. Teresa's Academy are committed to helping students reflect on complex issues so they may become informed, culturally competent, and transformational leaders of the future. For example, on January 31, to celebrate the culmination of Catholic Schools Week and the beginning of Black History Month, STA’s Campus Ministry department and Diversity Coordinators arranged for the STA student body to view the HBO documentary, True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality.

HBO’s description of True Justice states, “For more than three decades, Alabama public interest attorney Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, has advocated on behalf of the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned, seeking to eradicate racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality follows his struggle to create greater fairness in the system and shows how racial injustice emerged, evolved and continues to threaten the country, challenging viewers to confront it.”

The film supports the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, the founders of St. Teresa's Academy, who advocate for social justice. The Catholic Church and the sisters believe in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of humans. They teach to live in profound love of God and neighbor without distinction.

Following the film, students gathered in small groups to openly discuss the documentary, how it relates to their lives and experiences, and how it might impact them in the future. The event ended with the student body and members of the Sisters of St. Joseph uniting in the celebration of Mass, officiated by Fr. Don Farnan.

Students’ Reflections on True Justice

After viewing True Justice, students met in small groups to discuss the documentary. Following a prayer, each group formed a circle and reflected on the difficult topics raised by the film. Below are some insights from the students.

  • “Throughout the film, I was questioning, ‘What do you do about this problem? What can you do personally to make a difference? How can we make an impact like he [Bryan Stephenson] has?’”
  • “The comparisons to Germany stood out to me. They [Germans] have made an effort in their society to recognize and try to heal from the Holocaust and the hatred. In our society, we have a tendency to ignore it and try to move on, instead of really trying to dive into it and grow from it. I think that’s part of the issue of why this keeps repeating itself and keeps perpetuating within the systems that are ingrained within our society. Because we don’t take the time to acknowledge the issues and actually get results from it.”
  • “This documentary tells us to question everything. There is no reason to believe something blindly (unless it’s something like your faith). But, when it’s a man-made system that we have followed for years and years, why not question it? No one is perfect, so, therefore, the people that made these systems aren’t perfect.”
  • “The people that really need our help the most are the people who don’t get the same education as us, that aren’t articulate and don’t have a voice for themselves in society. They can’t speak against the injustice that they are going through. The school shows us and enables us to be something more than we think we can be.”
  • “STA wants to prepare us to be leaders to facilitate change. You don’t necessarily have to be leaders in the government capacity, but we can be leaders in our schools. We’re all going to college, and we can be leaders there. We can be leaders in our future career paths. We can be leaders in our families. So, I think STA prepares us to be leaders anywhere we go.”