Bryan A. Stevenson (born November 14, 1959) is an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, Stevenson has challenged bias against the poor and minorities in the criminal justice system, especially children. He has helped achieve United States Supreme Court decisions that prohibit sentencing children under 18 to death or to life imprisonment without parole. Stevenson has assisted in cases that have saved dozens of prisoners from the death penalty, advocated for poor people, and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice.
He initiated the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, which honors the names of each of the over 4,000 African Americans lynched in the twelve states of the South from 1877 to 1950. He argues that the history of slavery and lynchings has influenced the subsequent high rate of death sentences in the South, where it has been disproportionately applied to minorities. A related museum, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration, will offer interpretations to show the connection between the post-Reconstruction period of lynchings to the high rate of executions and incarceration of people of color in the United States.
In November of 2018, Stevenson received the Benjamin Franklin Award from the American Philosophical Society as a "Drum major for justice and mercy" . This is the most prestigious award the society gives for distinguished public service.