Hinton Speaks at Danford Thomas Lecture
Submitted on April 8, 2022
As Anthony Ray Hinton recalled his 28 years on Alabama’s death row, tears slid down his cheeks and the cheeks of audience members in a moving and unforgettable night in John L. Hill Chapel, April 7th, during the annual Danford Thomas Memorial Lecture.
Hinton’s story of being falsely accused of two murders in 1985 and the subsequent injustices that followed were riveting, but his account of befriending a fellow death row inmate (the son of a Ku Klux Klan leader who was later executed for the brutal murder of a disabled black teenager) was a testament to the power of love to triumph over hate. He urged his listeners to seek justice, not vengeance, and to do what they can to change the country into one that lives out Christ’s plea to “love your neighbor.”
Hinton was removed from death row and released in 2015, due to the Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal assistant to incarcerated people. The group has been responsible for more than 150 people who have been removed from death row. Hinton’s book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row, chronicles his story.
In recent years the Georgetown’s faculty have used the book Just Mercy as part of the Foundations program for first-year students. The book—a personal account of the work done by the Equal Justice Initiative by Hinton’s attorney, Bryan Stevenson—includes details about the fight to release him. The course helps students focus on what it means to be human, examines the pursuit of civil rights in American, the struggle against racism, and the problems in the justice system. Students also have made trips to civil rights museums and memorials during the course.
The Danford Thomas Memorial lectureship was established in 1920 by the family of Thomas to bring speakers of public interest to the College. Dr. Horace Hambrick, currently a Georgetown Trustee, is a descendant of the Thomas family that established the trust that funds this lecture series.
Following the public lecture, Hinton met with College Trustees, administrators, and city and county officials at a private reception where he also signed copies of his book.