UNA Pressroom

Events, Discussions Part Of Una's One Book Initiative Launch

Sep. 27, 2019

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at media@una.edu, 256.765.4392 or 256.606.2033

Michelle Eubanks, UNA, at meubanks@una.edu, 256-606-2033 or 256-765-4392 FLORENCE, AL - This fall, the University of North Alabama launched the One Book Initiative, which is a campus-wide book club for students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of UNA. "Just Mercy," by Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer, social justice activist, and founder/executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, was selected as the inaugural read. "UNA's Inaugural One Book program exemplifies the University's commitment to diversity and inclusion initiatives, activities, and programs, both in and out of the classroom," said Dr. Ross Alexander, the Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost as well as a One Book Committee member. "Just Mercy" was selected by majority vote on campus. The illustrative memoir is an account of Stevenson's work with the Equal Justice Initiative, which is a human rights organization based in Montgomery. The story exposes and challenges the injustices of America's death penalty through the lives of its victims, both the guilty and the innocent. Diversity and inclusion are central themes of "Just Mercy." This initiative "allows our students, faculty, and staff to discuss several themes throughout the book," said Ron Patterson, Chief Enrollment Officer and Assistant to President for Diversity. "Diversity and inclusion enrich every experience on a college campus. While one may think diversity is mainly about ethnicity, there are multiple characteristics that make up a diverse college campus, including cultural background, geographic location, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, and ability." Events based on the book's themes are scheduled for each Thursday through Oct. 31, from noon until 1 p.m. at Collier Library. Most recently, Gary Drinkard, a Decatur native who spent seven years on Alabama's death row for a crime he didn't commit, was featured as part of a discussion, "Ghosts over the Boiler," led by Dr. Katie Owens-Murphy, a professor in the English Department. "I'm collaborating with people on Alabama's death row on an interactive, multimedia exhibit called 'Ghosts over the Boiler,' " she said. "Alabama features the only 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is founded and run by people who have been sentenced to death. The presentation, which contains more audio and visual material, will situate the exhibit within the context of capital punishment in the U.S." Students in UNA's Materials and Methods for Teaching Language Arts are creating their own curriculum from the young adult version of 'Just Mercy" to be taught during the second half of the semester at Russellville High School. "The pre-service teachers are using the first half of the semester to learn how to conduct close readings of nonfiction texts with the goal of engaging high school students in analyzing complex texts with critical themes," said Dr. Jessica Mitchell, an associate professor in the Department of Secondary Education. "These exercises not only help high school students to transition into the type of reading experiences that they will encounter in a college or university setting, but, collectively, the clinical experience is designed to help high school students develop as critical consumers of knowledge." About The University of North Alabama The University of North Alabama is an accredited, comprehensive regional state university offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education and Human Sciences, and the Anderson College of Nursing and Health Professions. Occupying a 130-acre campus in a residential section of Florence, Alabama, UNA is located within a four-city area that also includes Muscle Shoals, Sheffield, and Tuscumbia. UNA Athletics, a renowned collegiate athletics program with seven (7) Division II National Championships, is now a proud member of the NCAA Division I's ASUN Big South Conference. The University of North Alabama is an equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate in the admission policy on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, or national origin. For more: www.una.edu and www.una.edu/unaworks/