Night at the Movies: Students Attend Free Screening of “Just Mercy”

Students watch “Just Mercy” at AMC theater in Ward Parkway Feb. 4.


Maleah Downton

Seniors Maya Scott and Tehya Frederick wait in line at ticketing for the 7:00 p.m. showing of "Just Mercy" Feb. 4. Students were offered the opportunity to attending a free screening of the NAACP Image Award-nominated film in partnership with Rockhurst High School and St. Teresa's Academy.

Maleah Downton, Web Editor-in-Chief

In partnership with Rockhurst High School and St. Teresa’s Academy, seniors and juniors were offered the opportunity to attend a free screening of NAACP Image Award-nominated film “Just Mercy” Feb. 4 at AMC Ward Parkway 14 courtesy of AMC general manager Kevin Connor, father of Rockhurst senior John Connor. 

Theology teacher Polly Holmes presented the opportunity initially to seniors Jan. 21 and opened it up to juniors the following week. Shared between Rockhurst and STA, there were three showings offered of the film, one at 4:00 p.m. and two at 7:00 p.m. Thirty-seven students were in attendance. 

‘Just Mercy’ was a great movie to start off Black History Month and 2020.”

— Senior Tehya Frederick

“‘Just Mercy’ was a great movie to start off Black History Month and 2020,” senior Tehya Frederick said. “I feel like Sion community needed to see it because we all talk about wanting to make a change, but the movie showed that sometimes you need to do more than just talk.” 

The showing of the film proved fitting as the New York Time’s Best-selling memoir of the same name is embedded into the curriculum of both Holmes’ faith-filled life class and English teacher Casey Engel’s AP English language and composition class. Senior Rachel Heueisen said seeing the film after reading the memoir in Engel’s class enhanced her understanding. 

Maleah Downton
Senior Tehya Frederick purchased a drink at the concessions at AMC Ward Parkway 14 before the free screening of “Just Mercy” Feb. 4. Bryan Stevenson’s memoir “Just Mercy” remains apart of English teacher Casey Engel’s AP English language and composition class’ as well as theology teacher Polly Holmes’ faith-filled life class’ curriculum.

“It was a really good movie. It had a similar theme to the book,” Heueisen said. “I remember reading the book junior year, and I really liked hearing all the different stories the author shared between chapters. I liked that they incorporated some of the stories in the movie, too.”

“Just Mercy,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, follows activist lawyer Bryan Stevenson, Michael B. Jordan, and wrongfully-convicted Walter “Johnny D” McMillan, Jamie Foxx, as they embark on a journey to overturn McMillian’s wrongful death row sentence. Addressing subjects of racism, criminal justice system corruption and capital punishment, the film, according to Holmes, is one all students should see. 

“I think it’s important for every student to see it,” Holmes said. “This was modern times. This wasn’t 50 years ago or 60 years ago, even before the Civil Rights Act. This is now. It’s going on now.”