How We Can Honor Troy Davis' Legacy

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[London Bridge Is Falling]

I Am Troy Davis...

Here in London I only recently became aware of the plight of Troy Davis. I must have had my head stuck in the sand.

I watched him on CNN on Wednesday night, which would turn out to be his last evening of life, and wondered how he could look so cool, calm and collected knowing that he would shortly be murdered for a murder he had not committed.

Although his face betrayed no emotion, one can only imagine the turmoil within. I went to bed believing that Troy Davis would live. I was going to write to Troy Davis on Thursday because I was haunted by his face. I couldn’t get the images flashing on my television screen out of my mind. I wanted to ask him how he was doing because I couldn’t tell by looking at his images

I couldn’t tell if he was afraid, if he was sad, or if he had resigned his fate to death. I was going to tell him that I knew personally what it is to suffer a miscarriage of justice. To have your liberty taken even in the face of overwhelming doubt. I wanted to let him know that I was thinking of him.

My heart undoubtedly also goes out to the family of Mark Macphail, for like Davis and his family, they too have suffered. Family Macphail lost a husband, father, son, brother and for two decades they fought for justice for their beloved as they should have. I understand personally how physically tiring emotionally draining and demoralizing their fight for justice must have been.

But to claim that justice has finally been served is in itself a travesty, because the evidence against Davis is shrouded in uncertainty and inconsistencies.  It appears the wrong man has been murdered.

It has been reported that seven of the nine eye-witnesses signed affidavits changing or recanting all or part of their testimony, with some witnesses stating that they felt pressure by police to implicate Davis. How can the state then in the face of such overwhelming doubt, international outcry and petitions so callously and inhumanely take a life? This is an act of barbarism.

What will the autopsy report say? Murder, I hope, because there was simply not enough evidence to condemn Troy Davis to death.

Troy Davis’ final words: "I'd like to address the MacPhail family. Let you know, despite the situation you are in, I'm not the one who personally killed your son, your father, your brother. I am innocent. The incident that happened that night is not my fault. I did not have a gun. All I can ask  is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight. For those about to take my life, God have mercy on your souls. And may God bless your soul."

It is now no secret that Davis had led a colorful young life, like so many young men, with unsavory friends and trouble with the law, although a former employer and his community members still described him as a likeable man who acted like a big brother to the younger local children.  So what went wrong with this life that it had to end in tragedy so young?

Who is to blame in this case that attracted world wide attention and support, the breakdown of his family unit? The state? Or perhaps a combination of both? I am once again forced to revisit the issue of absent fathers, particularly in the lives of young Black men.

I am a strong believer in the family unit.  I believe that the family is the building block of society where the young are socialized with norms and values. Troy Davis is a product of a broken home, his parents having divorced whilst he was a child. So many questions come to mind: did he have any good role models whilst growing up? Did he have guidance, support and love? Yes, love; Black men need that too.

It is common that in cases of separation, the mother will more often than not, be awarded custody of the children. The "ideal" family form is father, mother and children but according to sociologists, this has been and is on the decline. The most common replacement is the single parent family, usually female headed. Some will argue that as long as the quality of the relationship between mother and children is high, that is all that matters. But it is worth noting that such family structures bring with it economic dislocation and little is provided in the way of support.

Not all men will willingly do right by their former spouse. They are too quick to relinquish parental responsibility in pursuit of their own happiness. As a general overview, the young man will feel the pressure to be the man of the house, take care of his mother and younger siblings by any means necessary.

In England and Wales, The Commons Home Affairs Committee, in 2007 carried out the first study of young Blacks and criminality in a quarter of a century and concluded deprivation was a major factor in the high level of offending. But its report said the large number of Black children growing up in a single-parent household with no father figure, was also a key contributory reason. According to the study, 59% of Black Caribbean children were in single-parent families, compared with 22% of White British children. For mixed White/Black Caribbean children, the figure was 55%; for mixed White/Black African, 42% and for Black African, 44%.

The report said that in the absence of a positive male role model many young Black men chose to emulate negative and violent lifestyles popularized in some forms of Black music, such as rap, and in films. Members of Parliament were told children had "father hunger".

"Many witnesses said that an absent and disengaged father had a negative impact on young people's development," the study said.

It is too late for Troy Davis. Yet there are many Black men like Troy Davis who are still living. To save them is to carry on the legacy of Troy Davis. Young Black men need strong positive role models as mentors to show them that there is a better alternative to a get-rich-quick schemes, a life of crime and gang culture. There will always be obstacles but never insurmountable.

Fight with your mind.

Davis had always maintained his innocence. If there were ever a case depicting an inherently flawed system of capital punishment, then this is it.
It had become apparent to all that the line between innocence and guilt were blurred. The case against Troy Davis lay in tatters and someone should have dared to do the right thing.

Closure? For whom?

Sail strong brother. May His soul rest in perfect peace.

Allimadi writes for The Black Star from London.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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