You should never give up
We lost an irreplaceable voice for freedom and justice whenpassed away on Thursday, December 1, after a long battle with cancer.
Martina was the sister of Georgia death row prisoner Troy Davis and was instrumental in making the travesty of justice inflicted on him known around the U.S. and the world. People in cities and states across the country were inspired by Martina's example because she was tireless in speaking out for her brother, even when her own body was wracked by illness. Martina didn't only speak out for Troy, either but for all the other innocent men and women behind bars, whether on death row or not.
SocialistWorker.org will publish more remembrances of Martina, but here we print her words from the day of Troy's execution on September 21, as recorded by Democracy Now!
MY NAME is Martina Davis Correia. I'm the eldest sister of five brothers and sisters, including Troy Anthony Davis, who is scheduled to be executed in Georgia tonight. I would like to say that we are very disappointed by what is taking place in Georgia. And it's like this state wants to remain defiant.
The Parole Board said to us in 2007 that they would not execute when there is doubt. And every year we come upon this case, there's more and more doubt, yet the case--the state pushes for an execution. We are saddened by this. We are very upset by this. And I want people to understand that our family is hurting, too, but we will not give up this fight.
Troy said that this fight did not begin with him, and this movement should not end with him, because if we can amass millions of people to stand up and say, "We will not stand for this," then we can end the death penalty. And that's what we need to do, because we should not live in a state when people are being executed when there's doubt.
A lot of people want to know, what did you say to your brother, how does he feel, what did he say to you. Well, I try to tell people that that's something that's very personal to our family, and I don't feel like dissecting every comment he makes is for the media, because of the fact that his life hangs in the balance, and he knows that he's an innocent man.
I really appreciate all the organizations and the legal people from all over the world, ambassadors. We have so many people, scholars, even police officers and agencies and organizations that you would never normally see work together, working together, because everyone is saying, "We have the facts now. It's in black and white."
When I started this, working against the death penalty and trying to save my brother's life, everyone said, because she's his sister, she had to be lying. So, what we had to do is show it to them in black and white. And once people saw it in black and white, they became engaged in this case, and it grew, worldwide. But sometimes, just because a movement grows and the truth comes out, we still have people that are not willing to change their old ways. And I'm here to tell you today that no matter what happens this evening, the Old South will fall.
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WE CANNOT sit idly by and watch children be plummeted into prisons and jails, not including my brother, but children of all races and colors, based on socioeconomics. What we need to do is we need to let politicians know that you will not be elected if you do not do something about these atrocities that are happening in our states and in the prison and jail system. We will not sit by while you idly put our children of school age in prisons and jails. We will not sit by and watch you deter movements of change and live in a state, a city, that was home to Dr. Martin Luther King, and can go to his celebrations every year and still say that they support civil rights and change.
Obviously--obviously, people don't understand the difference between human rights and civil rights and how they interact. But we look at our state, that we've had death row exonorees from and also other types of exonorees, and we look at our state of Georgia, which is still not willing to accept that they make mistakes. And we have to point out those mistakes. We cannot go back idly, no matter what happens tonight, and say, "Well, we marched down the street, we wore 'I am Troy Davis' shirts, and that is it." We have to be the catalyst for the change that we want to see.
I want people to know that, yes, our family suffers, and we want to thank you for being a part of our family, extended family, but we will never give up. When we started, someone asked me, "Can I use the logo 'I am Troy Davis'?" I was very shocked, because I think when they saw that we had five or six young Black teenagers with "I am Troy Davis" written in black marker, people saw that that meant something. And people wanted to do something.
But we still had people that were in places of position, that could have made changes, that are afraid, that are scared, that hide behind things. And they teach us to stand up, they teach us to pray. Well, faith without work is dead. And I'm here to tell you that we will continue to fight for Troy Davis.
When I walk in the airports in Europe, in London, in the Council of Europe, and I see people walk past me with the "I am Troy Davis" t-shirt, the first thing they say is "That's the sister." And I said one day, I'm going to get me a shirt that says "That is his sister." But it's not because I'm some great, wonderful sister. It's because families should stick together. And when you have the truth on your side, you should never give up.
And I'm here to tell you that if you know the truth and you don't stand for it, then what's the point of having you have a position? What's the point of you being a politician? What's the point of you being a minister? What's the point of you sitting there and talking about family? Because family and community means everyone that's impacted by you.
And Troy Davis has impacted the world. My brother said he never thought that people would know his name across oceans, across the states, in places like Tanzania and Ethiopia, places where they kill people in the Middle East, and they're still saying, "I am Troy Davis."
And they say it in hues of colors that my brother has never seen and languages that he can't speak. But when they say, "I am Troy Davis," everybody knows what that means. And I want you to understand that that doesn't mean, "I am Troy Davis from Savannah, Georgia." That means that we can all be Troy Davis. And if we don't have somebody to stand up for the Troy Davises, then we are no better than the people who put him there.
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SO I want to stand with my family and say that my--our lives, and my son's and my sisters' and brothers' lives and my niece's life, has been richer for knowing Troy. Anybody who's met Troy has come away with an imprint of him on their soul. I don't have to tell people what my brother's life, because once they get to meet him, they can see for themselves. And that's why they've tried to keep him voiceless in the press, because they don't want you to know who Troy Davis is, because then you couldn't stand by and allow the state to kill in your name. So I just would like to say that I am Troy Davis.
CROWD: We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis!
MARTINA: And I just--and I just would like to say that, you know, I've been battling cancer for 10 years. And I'm--I don't have cancer, but I'm reaping some of the effects of the medicine. Several months ago, I couldn't--I was doing fine. And after that, I couldn't get up out of the chair. But I'm here to tell you that I'm going to stand here for my brother today.
[with crowd] I am Troy Davis! You are Troy Davis! We are Troy Davis!
Now let's get to work, and let's tell Georgia that we will not stand by, and we will defy them. And we need to start with that gold dome. Thank you.