And so now, after the furor and worldwide attention regarding the legalized killing of Troy Anthony Davis has subsided, where are we, and where do we go from here?
I suspect that many of us will go back to the routine dispositions of our daily lives: We will continue to go to work and school, take care of our families, and try to keep our heads above the murky waters during these dire economic times. We might, depending upon the backdrop, hold impromptu conversations among our friends and acquaintances about Troy’s to-the-end defiance, and we will say what a horrendous thing it was that “the State of Georgia put that poor man to death.” “Those officials,” we will lament, “ought to be ashamed of themselves, in view of all that doubt.” Media reports will offer summations of organized demonstrations across the country, and the debate about the death penalty will see a temporary renewal. All and everything until another Troy Davis is brought, again, into our national consciousness.
We will shake our heads in disappointment and despair at the final outcome, offer one final sigh, and move the events of September 21, 2011, to the recesses of our minds. Members of the McPhail family might assume a great or small measure of peace after a 22-year court battle to bring the accused to justice, and Davis’ family will in all likelihood begin a similar process of healing after fighting a battle that, in the end, assumed a life of its own.
Mostly, however, we will, as we’ve done countless times before Troy Davis’ case entered our collective awareness, move on. To other things. To great things. To small things. To insignificant things, and to things inconsequential to the condemned man’s case. We will, for certain, however, put one foot before the other and journey on, because it is what we do in order to survive our own personal turbulences and private sensibilities. In our moving forward, however, what progress will we make in our passages? We can certainly move physically and be about the business of advancing the dialogue and our actions regarding the inhumanity and barbarity of legalized killings. Or we can remain expressively static in our thinking and motor on, unperturbed by it all.
While many of us might be overwhelmed with the enormity of our own personal agendas, we simply cannot forget that there are, like Troy Davis so bravely asserted during his last hours of life, a “lot of Troy Davises out there [fighting unfair convictions].” The doubt surrounding his case should certainly give us pause to re-evaluate our own actions as they relate to his case (and those similar). His words should be our haunting.
We must be foot soldiers in the formation of coalitions and continue to address issues and problems associated with wrongful convictions, and we must work to establish alliances and partnerships for those unfairly accused and wrongfully imprisoned. Not only must we become activists in our communities and agents for change in our quests to reverse legalized sanctions of death, we must, in the manner of Troy Anthony Davis’ good fight, engage the struggle against the myriad agents of injustice. If we call ourselves a nation of “civilians,” we must strive to define ourselves as such as we move against the tides of inequality, discrimination, and unfairness. We are strong and resolute. We can do this. The fortitude of a national and international village gave Troy Davis a 248-minute reprieve before the curtain of injustice forever shaded him from our view and silenced him forever.
Let his valor in the face of an inexorable action by the State of Georgia give us the potency to move forward in our struggle against the judicial hands that claim the lives of our most vulnerable citizens.