There are a lot of great things going on in town; it can be challenging to choose which ones get added to the calendar. An event to know about and attend is a lecture series at Canisius College sponsored by the William H. Fitzpatrick Institute of Public Affairs and Leadership. Every time I have been to one of these lectures, I have walked out enriched by the experience. Through the lecture series, I have been introduced to engaging, relevant writers whose words and works have inspired me. It is a gem of an event in a gem of a venue with is no admission charge and free parking.
In the beautiful, intimate environment (about 500 seats) of the Montante Cultural Center at 2001 Main Street, corner of Eastwood Street, I have listened and learned. The upcoming lecture on Tuesday, December 3rd features New York Times best-selling author, Anthony Ray Hinton. who survived three decades on death row for a crime he never committed. Hinton wrote The Sun Does Shine to tell his story, a testament of faith, fortitude and a spirit that could not be crushed under the weight of lies and dehumanization. It is a human story of inhumane treatment.
In 1985, Hinton was convicted of unsolved murders based on false information. The judge, prosecutor, and police knew Hinton was innocent but arrested and convicted him anyway.
In 1985, Hinton was convicted of unsolved murders based on false information. The judge, prosecutor, and police knew Hinton was innocent but arrested and convicted him anyway. Throughout thirty years in prison, Hinton refused to give up hope that the truth would come out and justice would be served. In 2015, Bryan Stevenson and his Equal Justice Initiative exonerated and secured Hinton’s release. According to Stevenson, “Alabama’s death penalty is a lie. It is a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not…It is a grim, disturbing shadow cast by the legacy of racial apartheid used to condemn the disfavored among us.”
John Kryder, Canisius College adjunct professor of English, met Hinton at the Equal Justice Initiative fundraising dinner in New York City in 2018. When Kryder told the author that two classes at Canisius College were reading his book, without hesitation, Hinton offered to come to the college and speak to students. Kryden was impressed by Hinton’s generosity and went on to organize the upcoming lecture which is in keeping with the Fitzpatrick Institute’s mission.
The Fitzpatrick Institute encourages Canisius students to develop leadership through contact with people and ideas who are contributing to American political life and societal issues.
The Fitzpatrick Institute encourages Canisius students to develop leadership through contact with people and ideas who are contributing to American political life and societal issues. Classes at Canisius College that are studying Hinton’s book are looking forward to their visit from the author and social justice advocate. According to Clare Smokowski, Canisius College Class of 2021, “Hinton’s story proves that faith, truth, love, and incredible patience transcend evil. That is the message he wants us to take away from his story. After all, it is right in the title. The sun does shine.”
Since his release from prison, Hinton has travelled the world to tell his story and discuss changes that need to be made in order to prevent similar injustices from happening to other people. The hopefulness he sustained while enduring thirty years on death row, Hinton is now spreading to others in need of hope and social justice. His book was selected by Oprah’s Book Club; signed copies will be available at the December 3rd event. After Hinton speaks, he will answer questions from the audience.
Due to the generosity of the Fitzpatrick family, this lecture series has been free and open to the public since its inauguration in 1962. Parking is available in the Lyons Hall and Eastwood parking lots on the college campus. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m.. This year, Canisius College, a Jesuit university, is celebrating 150 years of serving the city of Buffalo and Western New York. I for one, am grateful.