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ENG 120 Grossmont College Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson Analytical Review



100 points (16.6% of final course grade)

Suggested page length:

5-6 pages in MLA format

Your Audience:

An educated American audience who may be unfamiliar with the race and justice issues that Just Mercy unveils.


In his memoir, Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson, lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), tells the story of EJI, from its early days with a small staff facing the nation’s highest death sentencing and execution rates, through a successful campaign to challenge the cruel practice of sentencing children to die in prison, to revolutionary projects designed to confront Americans with our history of racial injustice. One of EJI’s first clients was Walter McMillian, a young Black man who was sentenced to die for the murder of a young white woman that he didn’t commit. The case exemplifies how the death penalty in America is a direct descendant of lynching — a system that treats the rich and guilty better than the poor and innocent.

Essay Task:

Write a 5-6 page argument paper on a topic from Just Mercy. To support your argument, you will need to integrate evidence from Just Mercy plus at least two (2) more credible and outstanding sources.

Essay Purpose:

Your purpose is to situate yourself within an ongoing conversation about race and justice in America, to identify a topic of interest from Just Mercy, to conduct an inquiry via research, and to formulate your position on this topic. Your goal is to enlighten your reader on your deeper understanding of race and justice in America.

Skills Required:

In order to complete this paper, you will need to know how to locate credible sources, smoothly integrate them into the paper, and use these sources + Just Mercy to support your position.

Grading Criteria:

Successful papers will:

  1. introduce the topic, provide background/context for the topic, and articulate a powerful thesis;
  2. establish claims to logically support the thesis;
  3. present relevant, credible, and interesting researched evidence that supports the claims and thesis;
    1. synthesize evidence from Just Mercyand at least two (2) more credible and outstanding sources to support the position;
    2. smoothly integrate relevant phrases and passages from your sources – incorporate both direct quotes and paraphrases – to support your claims and thesis;
  4. engage and persuade your intendedaudience;
    1. establish credibility and trust with the audience (ethos)
    2. use strategies to appeal to emotion (pathos) and logic (logos);
  5. conclude paper effectively and leave your reader with something to ponder further; discuss the greater significance of this topic and consider a “call to action;”
  6. use correct MLA citation format and include an MLA formatted Works Cited page;
  7. be organized in a logical manner that guides the reader from one idea to the next;
  8. be thoroughly edited so that sentences are readable and appropriate for an academic paper;


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