Troy Davis & The Aftermath Of Activism
Typing, mentioning or reading his name evokes sadness in my heart, even now. Last Wednesday, September 21, after the Georgia Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency, and the Supreme Court denied a stay of execution, Troy Davis was murdered by lethal injection. Convicted for the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer Marc MacPhail, few are ignorant to the back story details surrounding Davis’ struggle for yet another trial, his 20-year profession of innocence, and request to live. During the days leading to his death, a firestorm of opinions, information links, calls to action and activism spread across the Internet and social media. Millions rallied to his defense caring not about his guilt or innocence, but focused on the fact the prosecution did NOT remove all doubt to justify an execution. The state of Georgia turned a deaf ear to all public effort however, solidifying the message that reverberates across America, the life of a Black man has little value.
Davis served as representation of wrongful execution for everyone opposed to the death penalty and another example of how class and race affect American criminal justice. If you’re wealthy or white, odds are the law will work in your favor. Consider the state of Georgia’s 2008 pardon of a white man on death row, moments before he was scheduled to die. A white man who plead guilty, but was allowed to live. With such precedence, how can anyone genuinely believe that race and class were not an issue in the Davis case? Don’t worry… I’ll wait. Also, it’s foolish and ignorant to think racism is segregated to the South. Racism cares not about a Mason Dixon line, your corporate job, or many degrees… anyone could be a Troy Davis. The moment law enforcement becomes involved you are at the mercy of a system notorious for locking up our people – the new slave trade. That reality shakes my soul making me fearful to raise a young Black boy in the USA.
According to the Associated Press, Davis’ last words were directed to the MacPhail family,
“Despite the situation you are in, I’m not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault, I did not have a gun. All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight. For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your souls.”
Everyone who unified to spread the word, gathered in public protest, tweeted non-stop, or initiated a Facebook or phone tree encouraging signage of a digital petition, woke Wednesday with a sense of failure. Troy Davis, however, knew in his last moments on earth that the fight must continue even if he wasn’t alive to see the victory. The fact is that everyone who spoke out or stepped forward as an activist in some facet has the power to advocate all the time for injustices across our country. Advocate for failing school systems in OUR communities and demand more government funding. Advocate for more jobs, after school programs, and parental involvement to keep OUR kids away from crime so they don’t fall victim to the system. Advocate to end the death penalty, or increase voter registration so that the “Good Ol’ Boys” are removed from all levels of government. We. Have. Power.
Davis’ legacy lives on in the actions we take, measured in our continued fight for justice no matter the race, social/economic class, or defense team of the accused. While I empathize with the MacPhail family’s loss and pray they find peace, I don’t feel justice was served last week. Another questionable conviction, statistic, another Black man’s life taken in America where justice is rarely served to citizens that look like Troy Davis.
Links to articles that further discussion & provoke thought:
- Footage of Big Boi and Killer Mike rallying the crowd and NAACP at local church in Jackson, GA an hour before Troy’s initial death sentence. – FEDSTV.COM
- Brilliant and emotional letter to GA from Decatur’s own – FINDTHEPIECES.COM
- Compelling post questioning activist tactics of OUR people – FRONTFREE.COM
- Consider signing the petition to abolish the death penalty – NCADP.COM
- NAACP compiled a video: Legacy of Troy Davis – NAACP.ORG
“The struggle for justice doesn’t end with me. This struggle is for all the Troy Davises who came before me and all the ones who will come after me. I’m in good spirits and I’m prayerful and at peace.” — Troy Davis
Remember that WE are the change we wish to see in the world. What are you doing about it??