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Dear Kay,

Reading is one way I’m learning more about our country’s history. But sometimes, listening to a great conversation is even more engaging for me.

I can’t quite get over the conversation here between journalist Ezra Klein and Bryan Stevenson.

For those just tuning in, Bryan Stevenson is one of the foremost voices in the push for equal justice. He’s the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, bestselling author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, and creator of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama—as the site writes: “the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.”

Bryan Stevenson says things like this:

The big problem we have in the United States is that we don’t actually know our history. We don’t know about the centuries of racial injustice. We don’t know about the native genocide. You say “native genocide” and people have no idea what you’re talking about. They think you’re saying something radical.

Once you know that history, you begin to think differently about who we are. We got comfortable with creating a Constitution that talks about equality and justice for all, but didn’t apply to millions of Indigenous people who were on this land. And so until you understand that history, you can’t begin thinking about, well, what are your responsibilities now? What are your obligations now? What would it take to recover from that kind of violence, that kind of destruction that we did to millions of Indigenous people?

The history. That’s what I’m working to learn.

This is one of the most thought-provoking conversations I’ve heard about antiracism and the path forward. Bryan Stevenson is a hero for his willingness to lead us.




The image at top: Bryan Stevenson standing at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama. Photo by Rog and Bee Walker/Equal Justice Initiative


  • I couldn’t agree more.

  • Thanks for including this. It’s important to look both forward and back.

  • His book is excellent and profoundly disturbing, putting names and faces to the countless ways this horrible history continues today. I look forward to listening to this conversation and appreciate you sharing it with all of us. Thank you!

    • I’m offended by this person’s assumptions regarding white people’s lack of knowledge regarding history of slavery and killing of indigenous people and African Americans. This is a knitting website and was a welcome respite from politics. Sadly no more it seems. I’m afraid I won’t be reading anymore of MDK emails. And please no replies that I’m a “racist” etc bec I am most assuredly not.

      • I know we are exhausted from the world problems right now and need A respite.
        I am ,however,sad that human rights are seen as political.

        • Yes, history is not politics. I have friends who are Democrat, Republican, and apolitical, and I could find someone in each group who is woefully ignorant of US history. Certainly not all of them are, but there are some.

      • I didn’t notice any reference to white people in the quote above. I take it he is talking about ignorance shared across all groups, by nearly everyone. We all know some things but not others.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I have so much to learn.

  • Note to Andrea. We have the right to remain silent. We don’t have to take umbrage and be offended by others. Not everyone one is as enlightened. There are people (like me) that respect this forum and welcome some insight so we can learn. Opportunity lost to share your light. Instead you turned yourself off.

  • I love MDK. I love you even more for consistently speaking up at a time when it can be helpful. Thank you.

    • Yes, we all need to speak up and help wherever and whenever possible. Even if it’s just among our family and friends. So many people are so sure they are “right” about our history and have not seen the bigger picture.

    • Hear hear! Thank you.

  • I find that as I’m knitting it’s a wonderful time to think. What else is there to do during these times? We need to arm ourself with knowledge and then think about that knowledge so personal growth is possible…what better time to do it than when you’re knitting. Thank you for this post it’s an opportunity for personal growth.

    • I totally agree

    • Well said!

  • Bryan Stevenson is brilliant . Listen and learn.

  • I just finished reading White Fragility, and learned things about myself I too would have had doubts about before reading the book. We owe it to African Americans to educate everyone, from any pulpit we have resources to, about what white culture has done and is still doing to black people we work with, are neighbors with and say we care about. Thank you, as a business owner, for standing up and speaking out. Deby

  • I recently received a “newletter from Brookly Tweed” highlighting their new cotton yarn. The letter included a short video of a Texas Farner growing organic cotton. Of even more interest were the 2 essays by black writers talking about the history of cotton growing in the south during the reign of slavery. I learned a lot about the fact that it was the slaves who knew how to grow the crop, not the slaveholders. it also talked about the history of cotton growing and weaving is Africa they were very advanced. woth reading and republishing!

  • If you haven’t done so before I recommend listening to a 2017 series on the podcast “Scene on the radio” called “Seeing White”. A fascinating study on how our country got to the concept of whiteness, how that was built into our legal systems, and what to do now.

    • Another recommendation from here for Seeing Whiteness and also the current season (just ended) of Scene On Radio. I also appreciate Code Switch from NPR and United States of Anxiety from WNYC.

  • Yesterday I listened to the conversation you recommended on IG between Bryan Stephenson and John Lewis. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t heard it. (

    Now something to listen to during today’s chores. Thank you. I appreciate the thoughtful things you share.

    • I also appreciate the silly and knitterly things too 😉

  • I was able to stop in the Montgomery at the Legacy Museum on my way to Shakerag 2019. A moving experience.

  • Bryan Stevenson is excellent. I don’t usually pay much attention to Ezra Klein; he’s pretty centered on issues that affect him. But I’m glad to hear he had Stevenson on. His book is heart wrenching.

  • Ann, so great. The lack of understanding not only of our actions towards indigenous people, but their resilience and continuing struggle, is shameful. I loved this episode and recommend anyone interested also listen to the This Land podcast by Crooked Media. Revealing and heartbreaking

  • Thanks so much for posting this interview! Bryan Stevenson speaks so intelligently about how we can heal our society.

  • I am so thankful that you included the opportunity to listen and learn from this podcast. This is especially helpful during a time when I am isolated from social contacts that would be my conduit to consciousness.
    I have the utmost respect for Bryan Stephenson and his efforts to bring our attention to our history and creating an opportunity for healing.

  • Thanks. I love Bryan Stevenson. His interviews are what first acquainted me with the problem of police brutality towards black men. He’s right, we don’t know much of our history, or even current events if they’re happening outside our own personal experience.

  • I really liked this interview too. Thanks for staying committed to seeing knitters as more than collectors of yarn, patterns and needles. ❤️

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