One State, One Film: Just Mercy

One State, One Film: Just Mercy


Tuesday, September 29, 2020
7:00pm – 8:15pm

Renee Montgomery
2x WNBA Champion
and Activist

James Jeter
TOW Fellow,
YPEI at Dwight Hall at Yale

Jonathan Kubakundimana
Program Manager at the Equal Justice Initiative

Join members of the Connecticut Collaborative on Poverty, Criminal Justice & Race, along with leading advocates in the fight for criminal justice reform, to explore ways each one of us can support and promote a more equitable future for all.  Using the film Just Mercy as a starting point for the conversation, we will hear from individuals who continue to advance the agenda forward.  


Watch the Film


UConn Students, Faculty and Staff  can access the film JUST MERCY free on any UConn campus the day before the discussion on Monday, September 28, here:


Please note: wired connection is recommended and preferred in order to enjoy smooth and uninterrupted streaming.

Join the discussion

Tuesday, September 29, 2020
7:00pm – 8:15pm



Renee Montgomery, a native West Virginian, completed her 11th season in the WNBA in 2019. She was drafted 4th overall by the Minnesota Lynx in 2009. She won National Championships with the UCONN Huskies in 2009, and professionally with the Minnesota Lynx in 2015 and 2017. She also won three state basketball championships during her high school career. She was named WNBA “All-Star” in 2012, as well as WNBA “6th Woman of the Year” in 2013. In the 2018 WNBA season, Renee broke a WNBA League record for most 3- pointers made in a half (7). During the 2019 WNBA season, she reached the 500 mark for 3-pointers made, making her 12th on the all-time list. In addition to her WNBA basketball career, Renee has started her non-profit organization, Renee Montgomery Foundation (RMF), whose mission is to serve the youth and families of Atlanta through principles learned in sports such as leadership, self-discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, and confidence.

The anticipation of the 2020 WNBA season, and the excitement of the Dream playing at their new home at Gateway Center Arena came to a halt with the onset of a worldwide pandemic, COVID- 19. Following the shock wave of the pandemic, the world’s attention took another shift with the multiple police-involved killings of African Americans, which ignited a worldwide movement in the quest for racial equality and social justice. It was then that Renee, an advocate for equality, announced that she would be opting out of the 2020 WNBA basketball season to focus on social justice reform. Supported by her family, coach and teammates, Renee quickly put her foundation into gear and decided to ignite a spark of her own with Moments Equal Momentum (MEM). Moments Equal Momentum is an initiative that will educate and assist in creating a culture of change. Renee believes “All it takes is a single moment, a single choice to create momentum. All you need is a second to change everything!” Her love for the game will never die, and neither will her commitment to social justice and humanitarian initiatives. Leading by example, Renee hopes to propel the movement, and keep it going!



James Jeter is a New Haven native and alum of the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education at Cheshire Correctional Institution, where he spent nearly 20 years incarcerated. He completed 20 credited college courses with Wesleyan, and was a member of the Lifers Program, where he worked with at-risk youth, helped raise money for local food banks, and worked with the Hartford Police Chief to address gun violence in Hartford. At the HCLF, James worked as a policy analyst, working on state and federal policy around banking and housing. In the time since his release, he has served on the board of Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, has been honored with the 100 Men of Color Distinction, led participatory budgeting with Hartford City Council, and has returned to Cheshire Correctional Institution to speak to residents of its TRUE Unit. James is dedicated to the cause of prison education and has sought opportunities to apply his own experience to benefit those still incarcerated or returning home.



Jonathan Kubakundimana, EJI Program Manager, graduated from Furman University in 2016 with a B.A. in Political Science. Prior to joining EJI, he interned for U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks in the District of South Carolina, where he researched rehabilitative approaches to federal non-violent drug offenders for the nation’s first federal drug court. As a survivor of the Genocide Against Tutsis in Rwanda, he has helped lead initiatives in the United States and around the world raising awareness of genocide and other crimes against humanity.