By Laura Moye, AIUSA Death Penalty Abolition Campaign Director
Our friend and fellow warrior for human rights, Martina Davis Correia, passed away on December 1 in Savannah, Georgia, while I stood near her hospital bed along with family and friends. She died peacefully after a painful struggle following liver failure caused by a decade’s worth of cancer treatments. Martina changed us, and she changed our world. She spoke truth to power in the way that a prophet does: bringing a timely message out of the margins and to the masses with conviction and graceful clarity.
Although millions would come to know her story, she was once a voice crying in the wilderness. The first rally we organized for her brother, Troy Davis, in 2007 at the state capitol in Atlanta drew a crowd of just forty people. This year, when the state set a fourth execution date for Davis, thousands came out and marched with us through the streets of Atlanta and thousands more gathered in about 300 locations around the world in solidarity. By the time he was tragically executed, one million people had signed petitions for clemency and hundreds of millions of people knew about his case. Martina needed us, the human rights movement, to lift her up where she could be seen and to hand her a powerful microphone so that she could be heard. And we needed her, a modern-day prophet for human rights who made so many people see the movement to abolish the death penalty as an imperative within the larger struggle for human rights.
[reposting from AIUSA Connect newsletter, January 2012]