Editor’s Note: This letter was written by NAACP President Ben Jealous shortly after the State of Georgia executed Troy Davis. Davis was executed at
11:08 p.m. Wednesday night after his final appeal to the United States Supreme Court was denied.
Tonight the State of Georgia has killed an innocent man.
In recent weeks, we fought hard for the commutation of Troy Davis’ sentence. More than one million of your petitions were delivered. Protests, rallies and
vigils were organized around the globe. Tonight, we fasted and prayed together as a community.
I have spent the past week with Troy’s family. He wanted the world to know that he understood that this struggle goes beyond just one man. Troy was
prepared to die tonight. As he said again and again, the state of Georgia only held the power to take his physical body. They could not take his spirit,
because he gave his life to God.
Let’s remember and heed Troy’s words: We must not let them kill our spirit, either.
Troy’s execution, the exceptional unfairness of it, will only hasten the end of the death penalty in the United States. The world will remember the name of
Troy Anthony Davis. In death he will live on as a symbol of a broken justice system that kills an innocent man while a murderer walks free.
The world will remember Troy’s name, as the death penalty supporters who expressed doubt in this case begin to doubt an entire system that can execute a
man amidst so many unanswered questions.
The world will remember Troy’s name, as death penalty opponents who remained silent in the past realize that their silence is no longer an option.
The world will remember Troy’s name because we will commemorate September 21st each year as both a solemn anniversary and a call to action. The night they
put Troy Davis to death will become an annual reminder that justice will not be achieved until we end this brutal practice of capital punishment.
“This movement,” Troy said, “started before I was born.” After tonight, our movement will grow stronger until we succeed in destroying the death penalty in
the United States once and for all.
I know you will join me. Together we will secure his legacy, and the world will remember the name Troy Anthony Davis.
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO NAACP