Activism · Criminal Justice · Racism

Inspiration

From Haymarket Books

I read I Am Troy Davis last year, by Jen Marlowe and Martina Davis-Correia, Troy Davis’s sister. Here is a description of the book from Goodreads:

ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2011, Troy Anthony Davis was put to death by the State of Georgia. Davis’s execution was protested by hundreds of thousands across the globe. How did one man capture the world’s imagination and become the iconic face for the campaign to end the death penalty?

I Am Troy Davis, coauthored by Jen Marlowe and Davis’s sister Martina Davis-Correia, tells the intimate story of an ordinary man caught up in an inexorable tragedy. From his childhood in racially charged Savannah; to the confused events that led to the 1989 murder of a police officer; to Davis’s sudden arrest, conviction, and two-decade fight to prove his innocence; I Am Troy Davis takes us inside a broken legal system where life and death hang in the balance. It is also an inspiring testament to the unbreakable bond of family, to the resilience of love, and to how even when you reach the end of justice, voices from across the world will rise together in chorus and proclaim, “I am Troy Davis,” I stand with you.

This is the first book I’ve read that had me trying to hold back tears by the end. Even though I already knew the outcome of Troy Davis’s fate, reading about the months, days, hours, and finally, minutes, leading up to his execution was tough. I felt anxious, my heart was racing, and my eyes were tearing up reading Troy’s family’s goodbyes to him and De’Juan’s (Troy’s nephew) eulogy. I felt like I was transported back to September 21, 2011, standing outside of the prison in solidarity with Troy’s family, friends, and supporters from around the world.

My admiration for Martina Davis-Correia knows no bounds. She fought for her brother’s life, and the lives of other human beings imprisoned on death row, so hard and for so long. My intentions are not to portray her as the problematic “strong black woman” archetype, though she certainly was very strong, but she was also vulnerable (developing and eventually dying of cancer). I just want to recognize and uplift her dedication to justice.

There are many justice-related actions and events happening almost daily here in Chicago, and while I try to attend as many as possible, I often use tiredness, or a need for some self-care time, as an excuse not to go. Martina spent 22 years traveling, speaking and advocating for justice for Troy, through births, family death, and her illness; I’m sure many times she was tired, but she kept going because the larger purpose was so much more important. Remembering her commitment to justice gives me the kick I need.

 

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