The ceremony for the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, was held Thursday. Four winners shared the honor this year: Indigenous rights and environmental activist Lottie Cunningham Wren of Nicaragua, Belarusian pro-democracy activist Ales Bialiatski, U.S. civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson, and Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was returned to prison one day before the ceremony after being temporarily released last month due to her worsening health.
Bryan Stevenson was presented his award by Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he did not commit and now works alongside Stevenson at the Equal Justice Initiative. This is Stevenson speaking at the ceremony.
Bryan Stevenson: “I work in a country that has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. I work against a system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent. We work to overturn this horrific era of mass incarceration in America that has been brought about by the politics of fear and anger. And in too many places across the world, we’re being governed by people who preach fear and anger. And fear and anger are the essential ingredients of oppression and abuse. And we need a community of people to stand up against this. That’s what human rights work is about for me. It’s about challenging these conditions that have been so brutal, so toxic, so critically unfair. There are thousands of innocent people in our jails and prisons, and we’re going to continue fighting for them.”
Bryan Stevenson was speaking from a civil rights exhibition put on by the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. The exhibition features hundreds of jars of soil collected from various lynching sites around the United States.