Photo courtesy of Busboys and Poets

Keeda Haynes at Busboys and Poets

At the end of the Montgomery bus boycott, some 65 years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. first offered his optimistic vision for a deeply divided America: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Disenfranchised by an abusive carceral system, Keeda Haynes is unwilling to stand by any longer waiting for that line to curve—her aptly named book, Bending the Arc, details her journey from wrongful imprisonment to a run for public office. The picture of ambition and promise, Haynes spent her childhood in church pews and Girl Scout meetings, before graduating from Tennessee State University with honors. But her life was ripped out from beneath her after a boyfriend asked her to sign for some FedEx packages that were unknowingly filled with marijuana. Haynes was sentenced to seven years in jail for the offense, but she never lost sight of her future. The Tennessee native went on to law school after her release and became a public defender in Nashville. Last year, she mounted a fierce but ultimately unsuccessful run to be Tennessee’s first Black woman elected to Congress. Now, she advocates for criminal justice reform, which she’ll discuss at Busboys and Poets on Nov. 16. Haynes will also address how America can overcome its structural bonds to become a “second-chance culture,” in the vision of Dr. King’s dream. Keeda Haynes’ book talk starts at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16 at Busboys And Poets 450K, 450 K St. NW. busboysandpoets.com. Free; $40 for a signed copy of Bending the Arc.