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Exonerated Death Row Inmate Anthony Graves Gives University of St. Thomas Black History Month Lecture

Nicole and Anthony Graves

Nicole and Anthony Graves

Recently exonerated death row inmate Anthony Graves will bring his extraordinary message of hope and perseverance to the University of St. Thomas St. Martin de Porres Society annual Black History Month lecture, “Fight for Freedom,” at 7 p.m., Feb. 25 in Jones Hall, 3910 Yoakum. The lecture celebrates the compassion and dedication of Professor Nicole Casarez, who helped free an innocent man. Graves’ story shows how an act of kindness can save a life and points out the flawed legal system can wrongly convict the innocent.

After spending 12 years on death row for murders he did not commit, and an additional six years awaiting retrial in Burleson County Jail, Graves could justifiably feel angry, bitter and resentful. Instead, Graves continues to be driven by the same hope and determination that carried him through his darkest hours in prison.

Casarez, an attorney and University of St. Thomas communication professor, and a group of former UST journalism students worked diligently to prove Graves’ innocence. He was set free on Oct. 27 after Burleson County prosecutors said there was no evidence to inculpate him.

“You have to hold on to hope regardless of the circumstances, and things will work out,” Graves said. “Believe in yourself and believe that better days are ahead. Having someone in my life like Nicole, who believed in me and who was dedicated to seeking justice for me – that gave me hope.”

Established in 2009, the St. Martin de Porres Society is devoted to supporting the recruitment, retention, development and graduation of UST’s current and prospective African-American students in the Houston community.

A reception following the lecture will feature the Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections’ display of prominent African-Americans whose images have been printed on United States postal stamps. The reception will be held in Malloy Hall, 3817 Mt. Vernon.

The event is co-sponsored by the UST Social Justice Committee and the Young Social Justice Institute.

The lecture is free and open to the public. RSVP by Feb. 23 to Ryane Jackson at jacksork@stthom.edu or 713-525-2147.

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