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Posts tagged ‘Georgia’

16
Jan

Dr. King’s Dream – Let it Ring Some More!

English: Dr. Martin Luther King giving his &qu...

Image via Wikipedia

If collectively we didn’t have a group to hate, we’d have to invent one (to hate).

I can’t remember who said that, but sadly, I believe it’s true.

When I was born, in 1957, segregation still prevailed. There were “colored” bathrooms, beaches, water fountains and many other indignities.

Through the years, and again today, my mother said that, when I was two, I could read and I knew what the “colored only” sign over the water fountain meant, but not what it stood for.

She told me that I thought the “colored” fountain had pretty colored water, like Kool-Aid.   (Children will see things as they are, without filters or ugly meanings.)

“Did you allow me to drink from that fountain?” I asked my mom, today.  “You couldn’t have reached it. You were only two,” she explained.  “Well,” I asked her, “Could you have held me up to drink from it?”

As she thought about it, I pressed on, “Was it because of the times?”

“No, you were too little and didn’t know how to drink from a fountain,” she told me.

It was a different time; and my parents were not the type to rock the boat.

I don’t remember being told I could not drink that colored water.  I wonder if my two-year old self would have felt let-down, or maybe kind of deprived?

Little did I know that an entire population of Black Americans were deprived of much more than colored water.

We have come a long way since then, but not far enough.  I think that either we haven’t come far enough, or we’re regressing.  Personally, I think we are regressing.

We have a long way to go in regards to Human Rights, Equal Rights, and certainly with the right to marry, and Gender/Transgender Equality.

People who today will deny immigrants a place in our country have forgotten that Dr. King’s dream was for ALL rights.  Human rights, Equal rights, Equal treatment, and basic human decency towards all people.

The leaders here in Florida, in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia and elsewhere, need to abolish their bigotry towards immigrants and towards anyone who happens to be different.  If the inhumane treatment of immigrants (and the torture of our enemies), continues, it will destroy the rich history of “for and by the people democracy” that continues to make this country appealing to people from other countries who simply want to come here for a better life.

We have to have compassion all people or hate will prevail in earnest across the other States in this united land of ours, destroying the fabric that keeps our country good and strong.

The Dalai Lama talks about compassion a lot.  In his book, “Ethics for the New Millennium,” he says that without compassion for the sufferings of others, a person will not be truly happy.  He talks about how we must continue to cultivate our inner goodness.  If we do, our actions become conducive to the creation of continuous compassion for others  Things like patience, tolerance, forgiveness, humility, and so on, are the building blocks of compassion, says the Dali Lama.

The inability to have inner restraint will deny the ability to know compassion, thus happiness, he says.

With the bankruptcy of America, which was put into motion by the wealthy one percent, and by the banks who are not taking responsibility for their actions, we need Dr. King’s words now more than ever:

In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.”

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”   ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think it’s good that a dialogue about living Dr. King’s dream by engaging in service to others, is happening in my community.

If we lead by Dr. King’s example, our children will grow into people who are world’s better than the people of the 20th century.  Better than those who would erect signs to keep fellow human beings off of “white” beaches, out of “white” bathrooms, and unable to use “white” drinking fountains.

If Dr. King were alive, don’t you think he would tell the haters that the only way to heaven is to have compassion for all people, regardless of race, religion, gender?

Wouldn’t Dr. King tell us that God doesn’t care what your religion is, or how pretty your church is?  I think so.  I also think Dr. King would say something like this:  It doesn’t matter who you pray to, what matters to God is, did you do the right thing?    I think what matters is to have compassion for others; to stand for something, and to deny the haters an audience.

I think he’d say something like that.  I know we’d listen.  But, would the haters listen?

We can dream, right?

25
Sep

I am Troy Davis

I am struggling with the murder of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia.

“I am Troy Davis,” cried the throngs of supporters who battled to turn his death sentence around.  Indeed, we are all Troy Davis – we could be charged with something in the blink of an eye simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

For a black American male, the reality of “I am Troy Davis” is quadrupled.   Black men have been stopped by police because they drive a nice car.  Sadly referred to in South Florida as, “Driving while Black.”   The stereotypical scenario that an expensive car and a black man, in some areas, is a red flag.  The first suspicion?  The car was stolen.

How can a racist nation; a nation that murders people, be thought of as civilized?  It can’t.

It seems the criminal  justice systems of the deep south have three versions of criminal law – separated by the classes.   The very poor black man is guilty until proven innocent; the same is nearly true in the sluggish criminal justice system for the middle class; and there’s the rich person’s justice where fat-cats play and money is made via pay offs.

As an idealist, I am loathe to see this divide.   But when a white man is given clemency by the Georgia Parole Board the very next night as Troy Davis’ murder, there is clearly something wrong!  Read the Reuters story about Samuel David Crowe’s clemency. 

We know the original United States Constitution denied black persons the same rights as white persons.  That sacred set of rules by which we live was originally littered with racism.   There is no denying that America, at one time, judged people by the color of their skin.  Throughout history white persons were afforded privileges well above and beyond the meager allowances of black citizens.

I remember, as a little girl growing up in South Florida, there were “colored” beaches, and beaches for everyone else.  My mother has told me for years that as a child I wanted to drink from the “colored” water fountain because I thought it would be colored water, like fruit punch.  I thought “colored” people were made of primary colors.  I suppose I associated it with my colored crayons.

Fortunately, I had an advantage over other kids my age.  My father was a teacher in a black school, in the sixties, and I grew up knowing his students, and fellow teachers.  He and my mom made sure I went to segregated schools.  I never knew how racist the United States really was until I entered college.   Well, I knew about slavery before college, but had a difficult time believing it until the television mini-series “Roots,” aired and I learned how I saw the world and how it really was, were very divergent.

I wasn’t a very good student in high-school; I only cared about singing, dancing and acting.  What was on my mind back then was practicing how to write my signature when people wanted my autograph, coming up with different stage names, creating scenarios for when I met Barbra Streisand and what I’d talk to her about.  (I had pages and pages of things to talk to her about – and I’d practice the conversations, too.)    She was my obsession and I was so sure I was going to meet her as soon as I was famous.

Sorry, I was talking about Troy Davis.

I don’t know that Troy Davis was innocent.  I don’t know enough about the crime itself (yet) to really pass judgement on “innocence” though many people are making that leap of faith.  What is bothersome to me is all the doubt that people are saying existed in this case.

The murder weapon was never found and seven of the “eye” witnesses recanted their testimony.  There was no DNA, Troy Davis has denied being the trigger-man, and is insisting he is innocent.   (A lot of criminals go to their grave denying they committed the crime – look at Casey Anthony.)   Just because a defendant maintains their innocence means nothing in the big picture – criminals will lie.

In the Troy Davis case, because enough doubt has been raised over the years should have at least raised the white flag of surrender to clemency for Davis, don’t you think?

The fact that Georgia and the Supreme Court did not err on the side of life for Troy Davis makes a statement.  The statement, in my estimation, is one that informs us that Georgia is callous as it concerns race relations.   I was sure the Georgia Politicians would be sensitive about race, and therefore do the right thing – so as to not suffer the consequences of political suicide.   The fact that Georgia lawmakers and politicians did not take a stand on this issue is alarming.

The politicians must believe that the populace prefers a lynching rather than what Spike Lee called, “Doing the Right Thing.”

The cartoon by Chan Lowe was published September 23, 2011, by the Sun-Sentinel, a Tribune Company.

22
Sep

the death of justice

Troy Davis

Not the face of a murderer!

As you know, Troy Davis lost the battle against the Machine last evening.

I am mad, emotional and exhausted as a result of this terrible outcome.

It seemed certain the U.S. Supreme Court (the Supremes), would take more than four hours to consider the life of Troy Davis, human being.  But they didn’t.

When the Supremes granted the stay before 7:00 last evening, such a sense of euphoria collectively wafted around all of us standing sentinel.  The stay, however, was soon replaced with horror as barely four hours later, the Supremes rendered a devastating decision.

Our system of justice is not that at all.  It’s a system, yes, but where is the justice?  Why must we murder?  How is this civilized?  Why did the Supremes only consider Troy’s life for four hours?

I thought for sure the Supremes would do something.  It is understandable why President Obama could not get involved in this fight, it would be unprecedented and would smack of something akin to dictatorship had he stepped in.  Obama could not usurp the power of the State of Georgia.  I understand that.  What I do not understand is Georgia’s refusal to listen to their own son, President Jimmy Carter.

I am not sure if this issue was about politics, racism, or both.  In my gut I think it’s both.

The State of Georgia said the “excuses” made in defense of Troy Davis was smoke and mirrors.   I don’t want to believe the State of Georgia would lie outright….. but, something is very wrong when so many thousands of people stand up for justice only to have their pleadings fall on deaf ears.

Can all the thousands of citizens, judges, lawyers, and law enforcement officials, be under the influence of smoke and mirrors?

Clearly someone has it wrong.  I don’t have the answer, obviously.  Hopefully someone will offer a history of this case – I’d like a better understanding of the facts and of the purported smoke and mirrors.

The Color of Change

The email below is from the Color of Change organization.  I’ve included their website, too.

I hope you find some solace in their message.  I did.

I have a new sense of resolve about this issue.  It has to be our mission.   If a fight has to happen before change can happen, then I’m ready.

I don’t have any idea how change can happen, but a dialog must happen sooner rather than later.   People need to be educated about the issue of murdering human beings as retribution.

The best place to learn more about these issues is to visit and support organizations like The Color of Change, The NAACP, Amnesty International, The Innocence Project, and others.

The fight is over due. As a society we cannot continue to condone barbaric murders in the false name of justice.  No more.

Check out the Color of Change website for important messages:  http://www.colorofchange.org/

Dear Andrea,

At 11:08 pm Wednesday, the state of Georgia killed Troy Davis. Just before he was executed, Troy maintained his innocence, urged people to dig deeper into the case to find the truth, and said “For those about to take my life, may God have mercy on your souls, may God bless your souls.” It’s a tragic day for Troy, for his family, and for equality, fairness, and justice.

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this. In this moment, and in the days and weeks before Troy’s execution, we’ve felt all kinds of things — anger, sadness, inspiration, hope and hopelessness. This is a time to mourn and remember Troy, to contemplate the profound loss we’re facing, to send love and support to Troy’s family and friends. It’s incredibly important to take the time to spiritually and emotionally care for Troy’s family and the amazing community that has arisen to support Troy — and it feels hard to muster the energy to do much more than that.

But before he died, Troy told us that this was about more than him — and he called on those of us who have fought against his execution to continue fighting for justice, even if we weren’t successful in saving his life. Now is also an important moment to take stock of what’s brought us to this point — the criminal justice system that allowed this to happen, and the movement we’ve built to fight for Troy and others facing injustice and oppression at the hands of that system.

Race, the criminal justice system, and the death penalty

At every stage of the criminal justice system, Black people and other minorities face inequality and discrimination. We all know about people who’ve been treated unfairly by police or by the courts. When the entire system treats Black people unequally, it means that the death penalty is applied unequally too. Troy Davis’ case underscores the way in which this systemic inequality can lead to a tragic miscarriage of justice.

In most cases, people who’ve been treated unfairly or wrongly convicted have some chance to correct the injustice. People who have been mistreated by the police can sue them. People who are wrongly serving time can be granted new trials, can be released from prison, and are sometimes entitled to compensation. As we all know, the safeguards that can correct abuse by the criminal justice system often fail, and rampant inequality persists. Usually, people can at least keep trying.

But there’s no way to correct a death sentence. If Troy Davis were serving a sentence of life in prison without parole, he could continue to press the legal system to grant him a fair trial — but because the death penalty exists, he will not have that opportunity.

Troy Davis’ case has sparked a national conversation about the death penalty. In the past, much of the debate around the death penalty has focused on the morality of killing people as a legal punishment — a very important question that brings out a lot of strong opinions. But even if we completely leave aside the question whether or not it can ever be right for the government to punish a murderer by killing them, there’s an entirely different debate to be had — whether or not we can have the death penalty and actually avoid the possibility of killing innocent people. In a criminal justice system that routinely misidentifies Black suspects and disproportionately punishes Black people, Black folks are more likely to be wrongfully executed.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that the death penalty has been used to kill innocent people many times. Since 1973, more than 130 people have been released from death row because of evidence that they were wrongly convicted. Troy Davis is one of many people who were executed despite serious questions about their guilt, and he’s called on his supporters to continue working to end the death penalty.

A group of NAACP organizers went to visit Troy in prison yesterday, and NAACP’s Robert Rooks said this about the visit:

For someone that was facing death the very next day, he was just full of life and wanted to spend time talking to the younger staff, the interns, giving them direction and hope and asking them to hold onto God. And he challenged them. He challenged them by saying, “You have a choice. You can either fold up your bags after tomorrow and go home, or you can stand and continue this fight.” He said it doesn’t—it didn’t begin with Troy Davis, and this won’t end if he is executed today. He just asked us all just to continue to fight to end the death penalty, if in fact he’s executed.

A powerful movement

For years, ColorOfChange members have been an important part of a growing movement to stop Troy Davis’ execution. Hundreds of phone calls from ColorOfChange members to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole helped delay Davis’ execution twice. Over the past year, there’s been a huge outpouring of support for Davis from ColorOfChange members — more than 100,000 of us have signed petitions, and we raised more than $30,000 to run radio ads in Georgia calling for justice for Troy.

And we’ve been part of an even bigger movement — NAACP, Amnesty International, National Action Network, Change.org, and others have all been a major part of the fight for Troy Davis, and there are now over close to a million petition signatures overall. Prominent people from all across the political spectrum have spoken out: members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI, former FBI Director William Sessions, former Georgia Republican congressman Bob Barr, and former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher.

This movement couldn’t stop Davis’ execution — but it’s a movement that won’t die with Troy Davis. There’s no better way to honor Troy’s memory than to keep fighting for justice.

Thanks and Peace,

– Rashad, James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
September 21st, 2011

17
Sep

STOP the MURDER of Troy Davis

The Troy Davis story is yet another reason to rage against the death penalty. 

Save Troy Davis Image credit: NAACP

It is inconceivable to me that a single person should die for a crime they did not commit, or could not have committed due to evidence corruption.

When there are countless executions of the wrong perpetrator, shouldn’t that tell us something?  Shouldn’t that be reason enough to STOP this practice of killing people?

The possible execution of Troy Davis is yet another travesty resulting from the clearly arcane Death Penalty sentence.

Despite no physical evidence, and countless “eye witnesses” recanting their original testimony that Mr. Davis committed the murder, he is nonetheless scheduled to die on Georgia’s Death Row on September 21, 2001 for the 1989 murder of Savannah police officer Mark MacPhail.

When a police officer dies, it is a horribly tragic event, there is no denying this truth.  Likewise, if there are countless witnesses saying they were wrong about Mr. Davis being the killer, and name another subject as the killer, it is also wrong.  Sadly, this is the scenario with the Troy Davis case.

The fact is, no physical evidence connected Davis to the murder. Seven of the original nine witnesses have recanted, with many saying their testimony was a result of law enforcement pressure. Of the remaining witnesses, one is highly suspect and the other could be the actual culprit in the officer’s murder.

Now, despite these and other facts, the state of Georgia has taken the final steps toward Davis’ execution — and only the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole stands between Davis and the lethal injection chamber. ~The Color of Change.org

Troy Davis, was at the scene of the crime, and is an accessory to the murder – but too many new witnesses have come forward and implicated the person Troy was with, Sylvester Coles, as the shooter.  EVERY witness BUT Sylvestor Coles now puts the murder weapon in Coles’ hands.  Not surprisingly, Coles is the only witness who has not changed his story.

This is a case in which the meaning of Reasonable Doubt is turned on its proverbial head to mean any doubt will do. 

The application of Reasonable Doubt is the cornerstone or our criminal justice system, but when it goes awry and innocent people die because of it, there is nothing more heinous. 

This dangerous game of Russian Roulette with the life of a fellow human being should never happen.  But it is happening.  It is wrong, wrong, wrong in every sense of the word.

This is the Huffington Post story I read this morning that got my blood boiling hot: The Execution of Troy Davis – – A Mother’s Story, by Martina Davis-Correia, as told to Jen Marlowe and Monifa Bandele.

Ever since  reading about the fight for Troy’s life by his sister and nephew, I have tried to do what I can to get the word out about this case.

If you have a moment, I hope you will, too.

Feel free to reblog, tweet or share this post on Facebook, or MySpace, etc.

Better yet, go to the multiple sites (listed below) who are bringing attention and support to Troy Davis.

Visit these sites for further direction on how you may take action:

The uncertain fate of Georgia Death Row inmate, Troy Davis, is plain wrong.   Please help to educate your friends and family regarding this case, and the Death Penalty.

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