Tag Archives: Martina Davis-Correia

Honoring a warrior for justice

Dear friends,

Today marks 3 years since the world lost one of our fiercest and most loving warriors for justice: Martina Davis-Correia, sister of innocent death row prisoner Troy Davis.

In Martina’s honor,I hope you will consider sending a prisoner the book we wrote together (“I Am Troy Davis”) as a holiday gift.

All you need to do is click this link, and fill in the billing information. And use the coupon code HOLIDAY40 to receive a 40% discount!

Joining with Martina, Troy, their mother Virginia and the entire Davis family in their struggle for justice has changed my life–and the lives of so many other people–forever.

You can read more about Martina here.

And you can, in her honor, give the gift of “I Am Troy Davis” to a prisoner here.

With much love, always, for Martina and the Davis family,

Jen Marlowe

http://www.donkeysaddle.org

Martina, your imprint never fades

Martina, your imprint never fades

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Filed under Criminal Justice, Death Penalty, Troy Davis

A torch in the dark: prisoner responses to “I Am Troy Davis”

Dear friends,

As many of you know, dozens of prisoners have been sent copies of I Am Troy Davis (you can gift a book to a prisoner by clicking here) and were invited to participate in the I Am Troy Davis Community Book Club.

One of the suggested discussion questions I sent to the prison book groups was: “Are books like I Am Troy Davis useful for challenging/changing the system? Why or why not?” You can read responses to this question from three men incarcerated in Hughes Unit in Gatesville, TX here.

The same group of men also responded to the question:

How was it for you emotionally to read “I Am Troy Davis”?

Here are their answers below:

From David E. Davis:

From an emotional stand-point, reading I Am Troy Davis was polarizing. At times, I was spilling over with inexplicable joy due to the many triumphs of the two courageous main siblings involved in the story, then, at others, I was overwhelmed with extreme remorse, because of the multiple abuses rained down upon them through an apathetic system by an unempathic state bureaucracy designed to exterminate and discourage designated groups in its environment.

I found myself in retrospect longing to be a part of a family as committed to the best-interest of one another as the Davis’s, because once we’re divided, we’re easily conquered. What many families don’t seem to understand is that to someone being unjustly disposed of, what matters is that those who should stand at their side, stand and not fold over. It’s the fight that counts, not that they’ve won or lost or any level. But the manner in which they’re seemingly defeated! If the family doesn’t care, who should? The Davsis’s are winners, despite how things may seem to the lesser-minded individuals. They maintained their dignity!

A movie that moves me emotionally is Brave Heart, starring Mel Gibson. I’m inspired by the scene at its ending where while being eviscerated before being decapitated and with the state’s executioners urging him to renounce his belief in the struggle, he yells the word, “Freedom!” indicating his desire for the people to continue their struggle to be freed from an unjust ruling class. I was as touched by I Am Troy Davis as I was by this classic movie, because of the similarities: both were fighting against unjust government systems designed to oppress the groups they were a part of, both fought and were eventually executed by the state, and, most importantly, their stories lived on long after they were deceased, effecting change for the better.

Martina is the character in the story that I won’t ever forget. She knew the effects her and Troy’s story would have on its readers’ emotions. She has touched my heart deeply. Martina did not have to give into the innate feelings she carried inside her towards her brother and, thereby, stand at his side for all those years. I have a bio-sister who’s my only sibling and the exact opposite of Martina. The last thing she told me and the first was that she did not put me here! Is she totally blind/unaware that “I did not put me here?” Or that I wasn’t born a criminal?

I am a victim of social genocide, imperialism/capitalism. I Am Troy Davis…long live the Davis family and their unique commitment to struggle, and active love for one-another.

From Kenneth Foster Jr.

[Reading I Am Troy Davis] was dreadfully painful. As a prisoner who spent 10 years on death row and came within 6 hours of my execution (which I protested by refusing to walk to the death house) it was a brutal reminder of the grueling death penalty process.

Author Eduardo Galeano said, “Remembering and forgetting are both political acts.” For example, take the Jewish Holocaust. Many people try to propagate that it never happened. Others try to downplay the numbers. That is an attack. It’s suppression. However, the Jews said “NEVER FORGET!” That is a statement of self-determination and resistance. I take the approach the Jews did to anti-death-penalty activism– “NEVER FORGIVE. NEVER FORGET.”  This is not to trap myself into hate. I can, and will, forgive when the death penalty has been ended and programs are in place to instill justice and healing. I can’t forgive someone for something they continually seek to do.

Right now, my memory is my weapon. My memory will save what is worthwhile. My memory knows more about me than I do. It doesn’t lose what deserves to be saved. That’s why I Am Troy Davis  is so important to people like me and people who do this activism. It doesn’t allow us to forget what needs to be saved.

Emotionally, when I think about that memory, I think about something Albert Camus said:

“Capital punishment is the most premeditated of murders, to which no criminal’s deed, however calculated, can be compared. For there to be an equivalency, the death penalty would have to punsh a criminal who had warned his victim of the date at which he would inflict horrible death on him and who, from that moment onward, has confined him at his mercy for months. Such a monster is not encountered in private life.”

As one who survived death row, reading I Am Troy Davis makes me relive that. I know the author doesn’t seek to instill feelings of pain or depression in the reader, but when we face this reality (the capital punishment one), we face a cold reality of systemic social genocide that targets a certain segment of our society, and throws them into a system that is biased, and that doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why we call it “a modern day legal lynching.”

Because I have been blessed with strength, vision, and passion, I use such books as guidance materials. It’s a torch in the dark. It reminds me when facing off against such a monster that might does not make right. When right is wrong, change is passed due!

From Mr. Charles McKinley

Reading I Am Troy Davis sent me on an emotional roller coaster. The tumultuous riot of anger, sadness, empathy, frustration, bewilderment, and inspiration had me constantly considering the nature of familial bonds, the court system, and human nature. I can’t begin to imagine how it is having a death warrant issued for your life. And at that, repeatedly!

I’m currently serving an aggravated life sentence for vehicular manslaughter. I was involved in an incidental wreck in which a young white woman passed. I empathize with Troy Davis and his situation in light of mine. Yet there are dynamics in his that are hard to grasp. It was enlightening and very inspirational to read of how positive and endearing Troy Davis remained in the face of such injustice and bigotry.

The so-called justice system failed Troy, his Mama, his sisters, his nephew and the myriad of supporters involved. The court system also miserably failed the MacPhail family. Instead of seeking TRUTH & JUSTICE for that family, the law enforcement officials involved provided no true closure. I am truly angered by this trend which has persisted for at least 2 centuries. Perhaps that’s why [Officer MacPhail’s mother] never truly attained the peace she sought.

Of course, I’m bewildered by how the courts could ignore and discard such critical evidence as the recantation affidavits and testimony that went alongside the flimsy crime scene “evidence.” It’s saddening, because it dims the light of hope for people like me. I could relate to so much of the book and the Davis’ struggle. I was constantly teary-eyed. Reading about his death row experience helped build my understanding and expanded my perspective on guys I’m doing time with. I know guys that have fought their way off the row and are now tacking capital life terms or terms of life without parole.

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Filed under Criminal Justice, Death Penalty, Troy Davis

Martina Davis-Correia: The imprint never fades

December 1, 2013Image

Dear friends,

It was two years ago today that Martina Davis-Correia passed away after her decade-long battle with breast cancer. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her.

There is so much that we, those fighting for human rights in the world, owe to Martina.

Because of Martina’s tireless work to prove the innocence of her brother, Troy Davis,  Troy received remarkable international exposure, making both Troy and Martina galvanizing figures in the struggle to end the death penalty, and bringing us that much closer to the day that capital punishment will be abolished once and for all.

Because of Martina’s persistent encouragment, guidance and education, innumerable women in Savannah and country-wide got mammograms and/or life-saving treatment, and learned to take charge of their disease and live full lives.

Because of Martina, the world has the gift of her son De’Jaun, an incredible young man who has already touched the world profoundly.

A few hours before Troy’s execution on September 21, 2011, Martina spoke at a press conference at a church across the street from the prison in Jackson, GA.   “Our lives, and my son’s, my sisters’ and brother’s lives, and my niece’s life, has been richer for knowing Troy,” Martina told the press and supporters who packed the pews. “Anybody who’s met Troy has come away with an imprint of him on their soul.”

Martina’s words were true–but what is equally true is that all of us who had the enormous privilege of knowing Martina, working with her, being inspired by her, calling her our friend, came away with Martina’s imprint on our souls as well. Martina’s life, and the life of Troy, and their mother Virginia (who passed just months before Troy and Martina)–has left an imprint on the world.

Martina once told me that she wanted to live to see three things: her mother be able to enjoy her senior years, her brother to walk free, and her son to graduate from high school.
And, though I can’t say I know much of anything with certainty, this I do know:
Virginia is no longer forced to endure the unbearable pain of a son on death row and a daughter fighting cancer. Troy is no longer penned up in a cage awaiting the next, and then the next, execution date.

And three Davis family angel-warriors proudly watched as De’Jaun graduated from high school last June, and are still watching as he is began his new journey at Morehouse College, guiding him and encouraging him from above.

This, I know as well:
The world is a better place for Martina, Virginia and Troy having been in it, and having connected their family’s struggle to our universal struggle.
And I am a better person for having known them, and having had the tremendous honor of fighting alongside them.

I ask you, in Martina’s memory, to read the book that we co-authored, detailing her fight for her own life so that she could continue to fight to free her brother and raise her son. And I ask you to join her fight to abolish the death penalty.

Thank you, Martina, for so much. You will always be missed, but your imprint will never fade.

With love, always
Jen Marlowe

PS–Martina wanted nothing more than for her son to have the opportunities he deserves for his future. If you would like to contribute to De’Jaun’s college fund, please click here.

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Taking a deep breath

NYC readers Yusef Laura Lawrence Eve

Yusef Salaam (Central Park 5), Laura Moye (formerly AIUSA), Lawrence Hayes (death row exonoree) and Eve Ensler (activist, playwright) read from I AM TROY DAVIS at the NYC book launch

“Troy sat in his cell, hunched over on his bed, waiting for the horrifying moment when the lights would flicker, indicating that a high-voltage current of electricity was coursing through Chris’s body. Every man on the row twitched in silent agony when the flickering began at 9:50pm. Troy knelt on the hard floor, gripping the steel frame of his bed tightly, and prayed for his friend…”

These words (which come from the new book I AM TROY DAVIS which I co-authored with Troy Davis’s sister Martina Davis-Correia) were read aloud on Sept 20–the eve of the 2nd anniversary of Troy’s execution–at our NYC Book Launch at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem.  It was not me reading this passage from the book; it was Lawrence Hayes, a death row exonoree.

Over the following days, at book launch events in Atlanta and DC, the same words were read by Kalonji Jama Changa and Freedom Koofshaw, long-time social justice activists who had worked to prevent Troy’s execution. In front of a packed audience at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company at our final launch event on Oct 2, the words were read by Jason Baldwin of the West Memphis 3.

DC Teach for Change5

Kim Davis and I sign copies of I AM TROY DAVIS at Busboys & Poets in DC

I had anticipated that the I AM TROY DAVIS book launch would be wonderful, as Kimberly Davis (Troy’s sister) and I traveled to New York, Atlanta, Savannah, DC, Baltimore, Bellingham and Seattle…but I had not anticipated just how powerful, how deeply meaningful and moving, and the unique significance each event would hold.

Much of that power and significance came from those who read passages from the book aloud. The passage above, spoken in the voices of those who had survived death row or nearly two-decades of wrongful imprisonment (as with Lawrence Hayes and Jason Baldwin), took on additional layers of poignancy and import. This was true for all the passages; a section about Martina’s battle with terminal breast cancer was read in NYC by activist and playwright Eve Ensler, who is a survivor of stage 4 uteran cancer, and in Savannah that same passage was read jointly by Beverly Youmans, the chemo nurse who took care of Martina for ten years, and Helen, a cancer survivor whom Beverly treated alongside Martina, and who made Martina the godmother of her son. Troy’s attorneys Jay and Danielle read aloud at Busboys & Poets in Washington DC.  Troy’s youngest sister Ebony read in NYC and his nephew Ron Jr. read in Atlanta. Many of the readers participated with tears in their eyes and very personal memories in their hearts. All participated with strength and grace.

NYC thenjiwe nyc launch

Thenjiwe McHarris (AIUSA) leads a powerful call to action at the NYC event

Moderated discussions in each city allowed us to connect the dots between the anniversary of Troy’s execution and the ongoing struggle to end the death penalty. Thoughtful comments from Yusef Salaam of the Central Park 5 case, Mark Cook who founded the Black Panther Party in Walla Walla State Penitentiary, Shujaa Graham (a death row exonoree), activists/workers (present and former) from AIUSA, NAACP, Equal Justice USA, the National Coaltiion to Abolish the Death Penalty (and their state affiliates), and the Southern Center for Human Rights added depth, insight, and local relevance in each city. We ended each event with a call to action, during which we played an audio recording of Troy speaking in his own words–his final words–in which he asked us all to “continue to fight this fight.” (In NYC and Savannah, Troy’s 5-year old niece “Princess Kiersten” closed the event by leading the “I AM” “TROY DAVIS!” call-and-response.)

But it was not the readings and speakers only that made the events so powerful, or even listening to Troy’s last words, impactful though that was. In each city, the Davis family and I found ourselves surrounded by loving community; the very same community that had come together two years ago to rally to prevent Troy’s wrongful execution. It’s as if the book launch created a space for that community to come back together on the anniversary of this tragic injustice, to mourn together, and to re-commit to the fight to abolish the death penalty.

As Kimberly Davis wrote after our final event in Seattle, “The motto of my Church New Life Apostolic Temple, ‘We Are A Family,’ proved to be true in so many words while we were on this book tour. Thanks to everyone that joined us in each city & at each event. We love you for your continual support. Remember it’s not going to end here. We are going to continue until the Victory is WON.”

ATL Jen and Kim MC with Davis fam

At Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta
(Back, L to R) Kimberly Davis, De’Jaun Davis-Correia, Ebony Davis, Kim Manning-Cooper, Earl E.Red
(Front, L to R) “Princess” Kiersten Herron, Jen Marlowe

And now–after a whirlwind two-plus weeks–it is time to take a deep breath.

The deep breath is not just exhaling after the intensity of the book launch.

The deep breath is about getting re-energized and re-focused for the fight that lies ahead. The fight that Troy asked us, in his final words, to continue.

In solidarity and in struggle,

Jen Marlowe

Co-Author, I Am Troy Davis

 

 

Kimberly Davis, Jen Marlowe, Ben Jealous (NAACP) & Amy Goodman after the Democracy Now! special

Kimberly Davis, Jen Marlowe, Ben Jealous (NAACP) & Amy Goodman after the Democracy Now! special

PS–Check out Kimberly Davis, Ben Jealous and me on Democracy Now!’s special focusing on the 2-year anniversary of Troy’s execution. Also, please take a moment to read the op-ed in the Guardian that Kim and I co-wrote on the anniversary.

PPS–Considering I AM TROY DAVIS for your book group or in your class? Check out the amazing discussion guide that Equal Justice USA wrote, in partnership with AIUSA and the NAACP!

 

 

 

 

SEA Kim speaking EB2

Kim Davis speaks to a packed house at Elliott Bay Books in Seattle

ATL signing books EBC

Book signing at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Look at Princess Kiersten sign!

SEA full house Seattle

The audience in Seattle is rivteted by Kim Davis talking about her family’s fight for Troy.

DC shujaa graham call to action

Death row exonoree Shujaa Graham closes the DC event with a powerful call to action

SAV jen at grave5

Virginia, Troy, Martina: Your book is here. You continue to save the world.

 

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Filed under Death Penalty, Human Rights, Troy Davis