Book to Action

Book to Action Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Join us for Book-to-Action 2021: a community-wide reading of the award-winning book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, the widely acclaimed public interest lawyer and Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama. EJI has won reversals, relief, or release from prison for over 140 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row, and has won relief for hundreds of others wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced, including Walter McMillian, who spent 6 years on death row for a crime he did not commit. Watch a short video introduction of the book by Bryan Stevenson.

3 Ways to Get the Book

1. Request a Free Copy

Request a free copy to keep (while supplies last: available in English or Young Adult English)

2. Download It

Download it as a:

3. Check It Out

Reserve it and borrow it using HPL to Go in:

Contests and Projects

Book to Action Art Challenge – Deadline for Submissions: May 7

Teens and adults are encouraged to participate in an art challenge inspired by Just Mercy. Create an original work of art inspired by and/or including a quote from Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson.

See full rules and submit your entry.

“Community Voices” Video Project

Community Voices is a recently launched video series featuring interviews with formerly incarcerated community members. The video interviews provide a platform for community members to share their personal stories of both adversity and triumph. Often misunderstood and judged by public opinion, the formerly incarcerated share painful experiences and their encouraging paths toward recovery.

If you are formerly incarcerated and would like to share your story with us, please contact Michelle Gee at michelle.gee@hayward-ca.gov. Participants will be compensated for their time with a gift card (sponsored by the Alameda County Community Food Bank), while supplies last.

Watch an excerpt of a Community Voices interview with Ronnie Forbes, a veteran of foreign wars who now runs a free food pantry at 20 delivery sites in Alameda County, following a decades-long struggle with drug addiction that led to homelessness and periods of incarceration.

Calendar of Events

For more details, see our Full Calendar of Book to Action Events

Friday, April 16 @ 2:30 pm – Speaker: Sofia McDonald, Law Fellow, Equal Justice Initiative

Sofia McDonald joins us via Zoom to speak about EJI’s current work, including criminal justice reform.

Wednesday, April 21 @ 5:30 PM – In Conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Author of How to Be an Antiracist

The author of How to Be an Antiracist will participate in a conversation moderated by Dr. Kim Jaxon, Professor of English at Chico State. The conversation will situate the central themes of the book, including definitions and examples of anti-racism and racism, and discuss how to move from reflection to taking meaningful action on issues of racial equity.
Learn more and register through the Cal State University Box Office

Monday, April 26 @ 6 PM – Just Mercy Book Discussion Facilitated by Alanda Johnson, Hayward South Alameda County NAACP

Join local readers in a Zoom-based discussion of Just Mercy, facilitated by Alanda Johnson, Executive Committee member, Hayward South Alameda County NAACP. 

Thursday, April 29 @ 6:30 PM - Speaker: Monique Berlanga on Equal Access to Housing & Eviction Protection

As a Directing Attorney of the Tenants’ Rights Practice at the Centro Legal de la Raza, Monique Berlanga leads a dedicated team of attorneys and advocates working to prevent evictions of low-income tenants in the East Bay. This presentation will be presented in English with Spanish translation available to those who request it.
Learn more and register

Saturday, May 1 @ 1 PM – Speaker: Obie Anthony, Exonerated Nation

Obie Anthony, founder Exonerated Nation, is committed to transforming the experiences of exonerees after release, and building a community that can provide safety, stability, and healing to wrongfully convicted Californians.
Learn more and register through Eventbrite

Monday, May 3 @ 3 PM – Book Discussion Facilitated by Hayward Public Library

Join local readers in a Zoom-based discussion of Just Mercy, facilitated by Supervising Librarian Melesha Owen.

Saturday, May 8 @ 2 PM/3:30 PM - Film & Discussion with Eddy Zheng

Join us for this free, two-part event.
Film @ 2 PM - Watch the film with us on Zoom at 2 pm or use your Hayward Public Library card to watch the film at your convenience on Kanopy.
Arrested at 16 and tried as an adult for kidnapping and robbery, Eddy Zheng served over 20 years in California prisons and jails. Ben Wang's BREATHIN': THE EDDY ZHENG STORY paints an intimate portrait of Eddy -- the prisoner, the immigrant, the son, the activist -- on his journey to freedom, rehabilitation and redemption.
Speaker @ 3:30 PM - Eddy Zheng, community leader and social justice activist, will join us live on Zoom. Eddy Zheng is a nationally recognized leader in the policy battle for prison reform and youth violence prevention.

Saturday, May 15, 2-3:30 pm – Speaker and Performance featuring Rhodessa Jones and the Medea Project

Performer, teacher, director Rhodessa Jones founded and directs The Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, an award-winning performance workshop committed to the personal and social transformation of women, now in its 23rd year. We will show an excerpt from the documentary film "This Ain't Your Mother's Theater Company!" and members of the Medea Project will join Jones for a live performance.

Program Sponsors

Hayward Public Library; Friends of Hayward Library; Hayward South Alameda County NAACP; Alameda County Community Food Bank; California State University East Bay Center for Community Engagement; Eden Housing; Centro Legal de la Raza; Raising Leaders Workshop & Internships of the Hayward Adult School; Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS); Restorative Integrated Self-Education (RISE) of Chabot College; Bay Area Systems Impacted Consortium (BASIC) of the Urban Strategies Council; Hayward Promise Neighborhoods; The Village Method; Eden Area Interfaith Council; Youth and Family Services Bureau of the Alameda County Sheriff's Office; First 5 Alameda County; Community Child Care Council (4Cs) of Alameda County; Promotores Program of the Tiburcio Vasquez Health Center.

Funding for Book to Action is provided by California Center for the Book, a program of the California Library Association, supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.