Tag Archives: Martina

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

I AM TROY DAVIS book launch!

Cover of "I Am Troy Davis"

Cover of “I Am Troy Davis”

September 3, 2013

Dear friends,

On September 21, 2011, the state of Georgia executed innocent death row prisoner, Troy Davis.

It is with a complicated mixture of emotions that two years later, I announce the release of I Am Troy Davis (Haymarket Books).

When I first started corresponding with Troy, I had no idea that our growing friendship would lead to me working closely with the Davis family on this book.

It was Troy himself who, after learning that I was a filmmaker, first put the idea into my head that I might be a part of helping his family tell their story.

“You should consider doing a documentary about Martina,” Troy wrote to me on April 21, 2008, during the early months of our correspondence. “That’s a story of love, tribulation, survival, strength, and determination that everyone can be moved by.”

I more than agreed with Troy. Martina was clearly a force of nature, and I instinctively felt that her double struggle (for her brother’s life and her own, battling breast cancer) was a powerful window into Troy’s story and to the violent impact that the death penalty has on innocent families.

The following year, Martina and I discussed the idea of working together on a book, leading to my first of many trips to Savannah.  The project went into high gear following Troy’s execution, in what was to be the last two months of Martina’s life.

Working on I Am Troy Davis may very well be the most difficult task I have undertaken. The difficulty was largely emotional—I was immersing myself in the painful details of the story of two people I loved after having so recently lost them. But there were other challenges as well: how to complete a manuscript when both of my co-authors were now gone?

Partnering with the Davis family (enormous credit goes to Troy and Martina’s sister Kimberly) and with the contributions of so many others (attorneys, supporters, allies, activists, friends), I Am Troy Davis was completed and, thanks to a wonderful partnership with Haymarket Books, is being released this month, marking the 2-year anniversary of Troy’s execution.

Writing I Am Troy Davis has been, for me, the fulfillment of a sacred promise, a weighty responsibility, and an extraordinary privilege. This book is what I could do for Martina, for Troy, for their mother Virginia (all three of whom I miss dearly), and for the Davis family.

My deepest hope is that the book reflects Martina’s and Troy’s courage, spirit, and humanity in all of their beautiful complexity. I hope the book is a worthy tribute to them and does justice to their story and their struggle. By telling Martina’s and Troy’s truth, I hope that I Am Troy Davis provides an alternative form of justice for them and for the Davis family.

In solidarity,
Jen Marlowe
donkeysaddle projects
Twitter: @donkeysaddeorg
Facebook: donkeysaddle projects

For info on how to purchase your copy of I Am Troy Davisclick here.

Also available for bulk/premium purchase orders, with prices as low as $9/book (retail price: $18) For larger purchases, greater discounts are possible.

Review copies are available upon request.
 
For info on book tour events, (taking place in NYC on Sept 20, Atlanta on Sept 21, Savannah on Sept 22, DC on Sept 24, Baltimore on Sept 28, Bellingham on Oct 1, and Seattle on Oct 2) click here.
(*Please note that event details are still being finalized, check back soon for updated information.)

For interview requests with Jen Marlowe or a member of the Davis family, please contact jim@haymarketbooks.org

Advanced Praise for I Am Troy Davis:

“Here is a shout for human rights and for the abolition of the death penalty. This book, I Am Troy Davis, should be read and cherished. It will inspire courage in the hearts of those who are willing to use their efforts to save lives and increase the quality of life for all people.”

— MAYA ANGELOU

“Like Trayvon Martin’s monumental murder, the execution of Troy Davis was a historic awakening for this country — an awakening of the deadly consequences of white supremacy. Don’t miss this book!”

— CORNEL WEST, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice, Union Theological Seminary

“Martina and Troy are heroes from a family of heroes. This story of their lives is also a call to action. It asks each of us to pick up where they left off by ending the death penalty once and for all so the risk of executing an innocent person is finally eliminated in America.”

— BENJAMIN TODD JEALOUS, president and CEO, NAACP

“Read this book, about Martina Davis-Correia and Troy Anthony Davis. The lives of this sister and brother were tragically cut short, one by cancer, the other through a cruel injection of a lethal, chemical cocktail in the final act of a profoundly unjust criminal justice system. This book captures their unflagging courage in confronting the challenges thrust upon them. More than history, more than eulogy, I Am Troy Davis is an urgent call to action.”

— AMY GOODMAN, host, Democracy Now!

I Am Troy Davis is heart stopping proof that the death penalty didn’t just kill an innocent Troy Davis and break and bury his gorgeous family, but it charred the soul of America. This book will devastate you, piss you off and then inspire you to work with your life to the end the death penalty forever.”

— EVE ENSLER, playwright and activist

“In this moving and intimate portrait of Troy Davis and his courageous family, Jen Marlowe restores to Troy his humanity, and reminds us why every life matters, and why capital punishment makes this country a pariah among the world’s democracies.”

— GLORIA STEINEM, author and activist

I Am Troy Davis is a painful yet very important book, one that will bring you face to face with the human impact of the death penalty system, prompt you to think deeply about the flaws in our criminal justice system, and inspire you to stand with all those who have been wrongfully placed on death row.”

 SUSAN SARANDON, actor and activist

“Martina Correia’s heroic fight to save her brother’s life while battling for her own serves as a powerful testament for activists.”

— LILIANA SEGURA, Nation magazine

I Am Troy Davis takes readers on the journey of a remarkable family whose faith, love, integrity and convictions propelled their fight for their loved one and a larger cause. Jen Marlowe’s careful and sensitive collaboration with the Davises has yielded a narrative that will surely inspire readers to pick up the torch that Martina Davis Correia so bravely carried for social justice and human dignity with every ounce of her being and every day of her life.”

— LAURA MOYE, former Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director, Amnesty International USA 

“A Must Read Book – the searing, heartbreaking story of a strong and loving family caught in the vortex of a dysfunctional criminal justice system.”

— ANNE EMANUEL, Georgia State University Law Professor and ABA Georgia Death Penalty Assessment Chair

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Filed under Death Penalty, Human Rights, Troy Davis