College of Arts and Humanities

Death row survivor Ray Hinton to speak at Clemson


Ray Hinton, who was freed from prison in 2015 after 30 years on death row, will speak at Clemson University as the guest of the Clemson Humanities Hub during its 2nd Annual “Lectures in Law and Humanities” series, sponsored by Loebsack & Brownlee, PLLC.

Hinton is the best-selling author of “The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row,” and his story was part of the award-winning film, “Just Mercy.”  In 1985 he was convicted of the unsolved murders of two restaurant managers in Alabama. His conviction hinged on the testimony of a state ballistics expert who claimed that the bullets from the murder matched a dusty revolver in Hinton’s mother’s closet. After an all-white jury found Hinton guilty, he began years of petitioning to have the revolver re-analyzed and his conviction overturned. With help from pro bono attorney Bryan Stephenson at the Equal Justice Initiative, three independent experts were called upon to re-analyze the weapon and concluded that it could not have been used in the murders, leading to Hinton’s exoneration and release.

Since his release, Hinton has traveled the world sharing his story and discussing changes needed to prevent injustice. His book, published in 2018, was selected for Oprah’s Book Club and became a New York Times bestseller. In 2019, he earned an honorary doctorate from St. Bonaventure University.

“The injustice inherent to Ray Hinton’s story is, unfortunately, not unique, but his sustained work as a writer demonstrates the importance of storytelling to social activism and reform,” said Brian McGrath, interim Humanities Hub director. “We are honored to welcome Ray Hinton to campus for this week’s events in Law and Humanities.”

The lecture will headline a series of three informative Humanities Hub events for members of the Clemson community interested in justice, equality, and social activism. The series is sponsored by Loebsack & Brownlee, PLLC, whose managing partner, Chris Loebsack, ’93, is a Clemson alumnus and chair of the Humanities Advancement Board.

Hinton’s lecture will be held on March 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Watt Innovation Center Auditorium. Those wishing to attend can register online by clicking here.

Law and the Humanities Event Schedule

Wrongful Conviction, Equal Justice, Prison Reform: Panel Discussion
March 8, 4:00 p.m.
Watt Innovation Center Auditorium

Bang on the Bars: Ray Hinton Lecture in Law and Humanities
March 9, 5:30 p.m.
Watt Innovation Center Auditorium

“Just Mercy” Film Screening
March 9, 7:00 p.m.
McKissick Theater

On March 8 at 4 p.m., the Humanities Hub will host a panel discussion titled, “Wrongful Conviction, Equal Justice, Prison Reform,” at the Watt Innovation Center Auditorium. Panelists will include Susan Brooks, Associate Director of the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission; James Coleman, Duke University Law School, Director of the Wrongful Convictions Clinic; Judea Davis, Assistant Federal Public Defender in Greenville, S.C.; Julia Hatchett, University of Virginia Law School, Associate Director of The Innocence Project at UVA School of Law; and Lindsey S. Vann of Justice 360 South Carolina.

Following Hinton’s lecture on March 9th, a screening of “Just Mercy” will be held at 7:00 p.m. in the McKissick Theater. The 2019 film, starring actor Michael B. Jordan as attorney Bryan Stephenson, centers on efforts to exonerate wrongfully convicted inmates on Alabama’s death row, including Hinton (portrayed by O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and his former cellmate, Walter McMillian (portrayed by Jamie Foxx).

About the Clemson Humanities Hub

With the generous support of the Humanities Advancement Board, the Clemson Humanities Hub advances the community outreach, scholarly, and teaching activities of the Humanities. It aims to coordinate and publicize campus Humanities events, turning the scholarly research and teaching of those in the Humanities into public outreach activity. In doing so, it aspires to incubate scholarship, steward humanities pedagogy, and demonstrate the intellectual and social importance of the Humanities today. The “HumHub” offers historical perspective, cultural awareness, and considerations of value in the creation, application, and preservation of knowledge.

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