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One Book, One College: Just Mercy (2021-22)

About One Book, One College

OBOC is LAVC's common read program. Each academic year, a new book is selected, which is read throughout courses and across disciplines. The OBOC initiative cultivates opportunities for creativity, scholarship, critical thinking, and academic dialog. It creates a shared intellectual experience for students, faculty, administration and staff.

The OBOC program works to promote reading and equity in our campus community. Books are selected to support students' sense of belonging; increase successful outcomes of underperforming groups; and ensure a campus climate that supports diversity.

Book nominations are accepted year-round. 

Read the Book

The LAVC Library has several print copies of Just Mercy available on reserve for 4-day checkout. Visit the Library in person if you're interested in borrowing a copy. Four ebook copies are also available, which can be read on any device.

The Los Angeles Public library also has many copies of this book available for 2-week checkout as well as ebook options.

Upcoming Events

Writing Through the Pain
When: Tuesday, March 22, 2021, 2:00-3:00 P.M.
Where: Zoom
About: Everyone has experienced pain, some more than others. The pain may be physical, emotional, racial, ethnic, etc. Alicia Bien, MFA Creative Writing, will lead a practical workshop in how to channel a painful life experience into a written story. Allison Lopez, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with the Valley Community Healthcare (i.e. the LAVC Student Health Center) will be on hand to help talk about the emotions and trauma experienced and how to process them for writing. 

Student Project Showcase
When: Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Where: Projects will be posted online via Padlet. The four winning student projects will be announced LIVE on Zoom at 2:00 P.M.
About: This popular, annual event is for any student work that was completed in connection to Just Mercy in Fall 2021 or Spring 2022. Students will upload their projects to the OBOC Padlet by Friday, May 13. The OBOC committee will review the entries and award one prize in each of the following categories: Best Equity-Themed; Best STEM; Best Written; and Most Creative.




Just Mercy: 2021-22 One Book, One College selection

A powerful, bold true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix America’s broken system of justice — from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

The US has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. The prison population has increased from 300,000 in the early 1970s to more than two million now. One in every 15 people is expected to go to prison. For black men, the most incarcerated group in America, this figure rises to one out of every three.

Bryan Stevenson grew up a member of a poor black community in the racially segregated South. He was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of the US’s criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young black man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, startling racial inequality, and legal brinksmanship — and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted lawyer’s coming of age, a moving portrait of the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.


Explore our Just Mercy research guide for links to articles, reports, websites, and more.


Just Mercy film poster

Watch the film adaptation of the book on Swank.

Learn more about Bryan Stevenson in True Justice (available via Kanopy). This feature documentary follows Stevenson - lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative - through his experiences as a capital defense attorney and advocate for community-based reform.