Technology and Management Solutions  
May 2023

In the May 2023 Newsletter
  The Sun Does Shine

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This month's newsletter was contributed by Annie Szczurek Davis, who recently graduated from Emory University, where Anthony Ray Hinton gave the commencement address and was awarded an honorary doctorate.

Anthony Ray Hinton's Story

Anthony Ray Hinton

Anthony Ray Hinton spent over 30 years in solitary confinement on Alabama's death row for a crime he did not commit.

Mr. Hinton grew up poor and black in rural Alabama. When he was 29 years old, he was working at a locked warehouse cleaning floors. A guard at the warehouse recorded his arrival and departure times. Fifteen miles away, a restaurant manager was shot and he mistakenly identified Mr. Hinton from a photo lineup. Later, police found an old pistol from Hinton's mother's house and "matched" the bullets from this gun with the bullets used in the crime and the murder of two other restaurant managers. Mr. Hinton repeatedly stressed his innocence and despite solid evidence of an alibi, he was convicted for crimes he did not commit.

On December 17, 1986, Mr. Hinton entered death row and was confined to a five-by-seven-foot cell. During his 30 years confined in this cell, right next to the execution chamber, he watched 54 men he knew be executed and an additional 22 take their own lives.

Mr. Hinton writes, "The state of Alabama had every intention of killing me for a crime I didn't commit. They didn't care whether I did it. They cared about the color of my skin. As the prosecutor said, 'Even if we didn't get the right one, at least we got one off the street.' And that was referring to a black person only he didn't use the word black." Unfortunately, this was the reality of the criminal injustice system in the U.S.

Mr. Hinton was exonerated on April 3, 2015 after many years of work by attorney Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative showing that the crime bullets did not match those of the gun owned by Hinton's mother, and bolstered by a rare unanimous Supreme Court ruling. Mr. Hinton now serves as a community educator and an advocate against the death penalty. He works with Lifelines, which reaches out to people in solitary confinement through letters.

I strongly recommend his book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom and Justice and the documentary by the same name. Both provide powerful insights at the individual level on Mr. Hinton's faith and mental resilience, and at a societal level on the flawed workings of our criminal justice system.

Life Lessons from Mr. Hinton's Resilience

Mr. Hinton's best friend, Lester, visited him every week he was on death row for more than 30 years. This amounted to over 10,000 visits, each of which took over seven hours roundtrip. Lester and Mr. Hinton's mom provided unwavering love and support for him and gave him hope. It shows the deep importance of social connections and the ability we all have to positively impact those around us.

During the middle of Emory's outdoor, uncovered, graduation ceremony, it started to rain slightly and you could hear the crowd pulling out umbrellas and wondering if they should seek cover. Mr. Hinton encouraged us to sit in the rain and to enjoy the feelings of being outside. In his book, Mr. Hinton writes "Every night, I go outside and look up at the stars and moon, because for years I could not see either. I walk in the rain, because I didn't feel rain for years." This was a powerful example of the importance of finding gratitude in the small freedoms in daily life, even if they might typically be considered an annoyance.

Mr. Hinton spoke that no matter your circumstances, you can control your attitude and outlook on life. He made a choice of forgiveness for his own peace of mind. He decided he wanted to live his life to the fullest. He writes, "Everything, I realized, is a choice. And spending your days waiting to die is no way to live." During his time on death row, Mr. Hinton founded The Death Row Book Club, and he was the only one out of the original members who was not executed. Mr. Hinton reminds us that even in the most challenging of circumstances, it is still possible to have a positive attitude and work toward love and forgiveness.


Mr. Hinton's story is an incredible one of perseverance, mental fortitude, and forgiveness. Hearing him speak made me grateful for everyday freedoms that we typically take for granted, like being able to go for a walk or feeling the rain.

Theresa's Epilogue. I was also at that graduation ceremony sitting in the rain in tears hearing Mr. Hinton (now Dr. Hinton). It makes me feel blessed to choose to serve and contribute. In closing he said:

Every day you have a choice:
To serve or not,
To be a good person or not,
To try to love or not.
Be the best person you can be. Love yourself.

Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D.
C-Level Executive, Corporate Director, Consultant, and Colorado CIO of the Year

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Theresa M. Szczurek, Ph.D.

Technology and Management Solutions

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Theresa Szczurek.
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