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Martina Correia, 1967-2011, champion of Troy Davis and justice for all

December 1, 2011

by Matthew Cardinale

Atlanta (APN) – Martina Correia, the sister of Troy Davis, who was his strongest advocate, has succumbed to breast cancer.

Martina Davis Correia speaks passionately for justice for her brother, Troy, at a 2008 rally. – Photo: World Coalition Against the Death Penalty/Wikimedia
She had been diagnosed with breast cancer 11 years ago and given six months to live at that time, but she fought to stay alive so that she could fight for her brother, Troy, to stay alive. The state of Georgia executed Davis a few weeks ago for a murder conviction based upon witness testimony, despite the recantation of seven out of nine of those witnesses.

“We were very blessed to know Martina and to work with her for more than 11 years,” Laura Moye, Death Penalty Abolition Campaign coordinator for Amnesty International USA, told Atlanta Progressive News.

“She was a true champion and hero for human rights in the U.S. and beyond. She changed all of us and she changed this world. We know her spirit is very strong and is going to continue to be a force for changing this world for the better,” Moye said.

“I was with Martina this week in the hospital, and she had a peaceful passing,” Moye said.

“We are inspired by her strength and by her courage. We are so grateful that she was a part of our cause and that we could be a part of her cause,” Moye said.

The Davis family in 2004: Troy and his mother Virginia in front, De’Jaun Correia, Martina’s son, in the center; Ebony, Kimberly and Martina in back
“Martina was the spark of the movement that built up around her brother. She was the person who championed his cause from the beginning and for many, many years she was a voice crying in the wilderness … Then people started to listen to her,” Moye said.

“With her leadership in the campaign, we always involved her in the decisions to build up an effective campaign,” Moye said.

“She inspired so many people to be involved in his struggle. She said it was really part of a larger struggle for human rights in this country,” Moye said.

“She got involved in Amnesty because she wanted to help her brother but she recognizes what was happening to her brother was happening to other people, she wanted to help other people. It was very much what they wanted – her and her brother,” Moye said.

“Martina Correia fought a 20-year-long battle for justice for her brother. She led an international campaign to save her brother’s life and prove his innocence. She was the voice for Troy and their family and led an international chorus in singing, ‘I AM TROY DAVIS,’” Sara Totonchi, executive director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, said in a statement prepared for APN.

At a press conference on Sept. 21, 2011, shortly before Troy Davis’ execution, Martina, who had been very ill, dramatically stood up from her wheelchair to show the indomitable resolve of the movement to free him and abolish the death penalty. – Video frame: Democracy Now
“Martina balanced her struggle for her brother’s life and against the death penalty with fighting her own personal daily battle with breast cancer that threatened her life since 2002,” Totonchi said.

“She was not only a leader in the anti-death penalty community; she is also at the helm of the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer. She focused her work on prevention, education and cultural barriers to eradicate cancer in communities of color,” Totonchi said.

“Many times over the years I would be on a conference call with Martina only to find out midway through the call that she was simultaneously receiving chemotherapy while fully participating in our discussion,” Totonchi said.

“But with Martina, it was not only what work she did; it’s how she did it. Martina led this movement by demonstrating an unshakable commitment to ending the death penalty. She is unparalleled in her determination,” she said.

“Martina’s focus was always bigger than her brother’s case. Martina never lost sight of the lives and the families of all people in prison and on death rows. I remember during one of the times Troy had an execution warrant pending with just two weeks before he was set to be killed, Martina called me to check in about a mutual friend of ours who recently went back to prison. She wanted to know if his wife and kids were OK and what address could she send a grocery store gift card to help them out during this difficult time,” she said.

Martina never lost sight of the lives and the families of all people in prison and on death rows.

“This was just one of the many, many times I have felt so blessed to know and work with someone as extraordinary as Martina. She has informed and directed my work at the Southern Center for Human Rights for over 10 years. I could always rely on her to direct me to the issues that are most deeply impacting the lives of people in prison and their families, whether it was the exorbitant fees charged to people seeking medical attention inside the prisons to abuses by the corrections officers at visitation. And she kept these families and their struggles in her heart always. Every time she spoke to an audience about her brother’s case, she would invoke them,” she said.

At the Town Bizness Town Hall on Feb. 11, 2009, in West Oakland, Minister of Information JR speaks as panelists Jack Bryson, Minister Keith Muhammad, Martina Davis Correia and Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. listen. – Photo: Dave Id, Indybay
“Martina’s hope and struggle should sustain and push us all to do more, to work harder, to take more risks, to keep our eyes on the prize and to work for justice and peace for our communities on both sides of the prison walls. In Martina’s name – and Troy’s and their mother Virginia’s, who passed earlier this year – we rededicate our lives to working every day to end this death penalty, in Georgia, across the nation and around the world,” she said.

Correia was a nurse and a veteran of the first U.S. invasion of Iraq.

After being diagnosed with breast cancer, she was no longer able to work and was on disability, so she traveled the nation and indeed the world advocating for Troy Davis.

She also became an advocate for curing breast cancer.

Correia’s mother, Virginia Davis, died in April 2011, only months before Troy Davis was executed.

“I think the death penalty takes a terrible toll on all the families who are involved. It’s interesting to know Troy’s mother and sister died within months of his execution,” Moye said.

Correia is survived by one son, Antone De’Jaun Davis-Correia; two sisters, Kimberly and Ebony Davis; and one brother, Lester Davis.

Matthew Cardinale is news editor of The Atlanta Progressive News, where this story first appeared. He can be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

Martina Correia: Her life was consumed by the fight to win justice

by Marlene Martin

Martina spread support for Troy and against the death penalty around the world. She was honored with the Sean McBride Award for Outstanding Contribution to Human Rights at the Amnesty International Ireland General Meeting in Dublin March 28, 2010.
Terribly sad news … I just learned a few moments ago that Martina Correia, the courageous sister of Troy Davis, died today. As many of you know, she was fighting breast cancer and had become very ill and weak in the last few months.

For all of you who were lucky enough to meet Martina, you met someone with incredible conviction and determination.

In one of my last conversations with Martina, she told me someone in France had emailed her to say they were sorry that despite all of their efforts and protests for Troy, they had failed.

Martina said: “I want people to know that we didn’t fail. As long as we keep hammering away at this thing, as long as we refuse to give up, we haven’t failed. We’ll be doing what Troy would have wanted us to do. Our efforts made an impact and we’ll continue to make an impact.”

“I want people to know that we didn’t fail. As long as we keep hammering away at this thing, as long as we refuse to give up, we haven’t failed. We’ll be doing what Troy would have wanted us to do.” – Martina Correia

That is always how she was. She refused to be defeated. She always looked to the positive; she always looked to ways we could mobilize to win.

I feel so proud and honored to have fought alongside Martina and Troy’s family. And I know many, many of you feel the same way.

This news came to me in a phone call from Mark Clements, someone who spent 28 years wrongfully incarcerated in Illinois. He said: “We will miss her. She was a warrior in this fight. To the best of our ability, we must continue this fight she started for Troy and for others.”

Martina raised her son, De’Jaun – shown in a photo taken earlier this year – to fight for justice. She took De’Jaun to visit Troy beginning shortly after his birth, and the two grew very close. De’Jaun spoke eloquently at the rally just before his uncle’s execution. It is now up to him – and to all of us – to fight and to win.
Her life was consumed by the fight to win justice for her brother and to raise the banner for abolition of the death penalty.

She was an inspiration to us all.

Now it will be up to us all to fight on in her memory and in Troy’s memory – and not to give up.

Marlene Martin, executive director of Campaign to End the Death Penalty, can be reached at marlene@nodeathpenalty.org.

Martina opposed LWOP

by Christine Hamel

Those of us who had the privilege of meeting Martina were truly blessed. She was the catalyst of the movement that spread worldwide to save the life of her brother, Troy Davis, even while she fought cancer to save her own life.

Recently I’ve heard Troy Davis’ case used as a justification for “life without possibility of parole.” In honor of her courage, leadership and hard work, I’d like to remind all of those that Martina was a long-time board member of Campaign to End the Death Penalty, an organization that opposes life without possibility of parole.

Martina stood up for her values, even when it might have been politically expedient to do otherwise.

Christine Hamel can be reached at babysoft777@hotmail.com.

 

3 thoughts on “Martina Correia, 1967-2011, champion of Troy Davis and justice for all

  1. Malaika H Kambon

    She will not rest until justice is achieved. We have a long way to go. When I think of her transition, instead of thinking sadness in the traditional sense, I think fire, I think cold anger directed at those who gave her frustration, pain and death to her Loved Ones… I think of her strength, courage and fortitude in the face of odds that would have crushed a lesser person, and snuffed out a lesser spirit. I think of Troy Anthony Davis, who courageously held strong and true to his spirituality and his will and determination – not giving up one inch of fortitude to the pig. I think of Troy's determination to NOT eat a 'last meal' in full confidence that he would be renewed – and he was – even in death. This is why a corrupt system had no compunction whatever in attempting to destroy a courageous FAMILY: Mother, Brother, & Sister who are now Ancestors, and those who continue forward with us to continue the fight, and dare to win! The will of 3 AFRIKAN people moved a world: popes and kings, masses of millions, former heads of state and talking heads alike. That a cabal of 6 Negros – from Obama on down – stood on the threshold of this courage and still allowed their handlers to murder this bright flame, speaks to the lowest depths that some will sink to – some who have no racial memory of their Ancestors being whipped, raped, starved, beaten, murdered and mass murdered and enslaved. As Franz Fanon said in Black Faces/White Masks: "In this study, Fanon uses psychoanalysis and psychoanalytical theory to explain the feelings of dependency and inadequacy that Black people experience in a White world. He speaks of the divided self-perception of the Black Subject who has lost his native cultural originality and embraced the culture of the mother country. As a result of the inferiority complex engendered in the mind of the Black Subject, he will try to appropriate and imitate the cultural code of the colonizer. The behaviour, Fanon argues, is even more evident in upwardly mobile and educated Black people who can afford to acquire status symbols." Note the final 2 sentences in the previous quote…Why is it that people on this continent keep voting in these flawed bits of flotsam? Justin A. Frank psychoanalyzed Bush to a tee in his book 'Bush On the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President.' Bush is cold, ruthless, and emotionally unstable. Now comes Obama, fitting to a tee Ancestor Fanon's psychoanalysis of what an upwardly mobile and 'educated' Negro with an inferiority complex – and the money to NOT control it – can and will do: appropriate and imitate the cultural code of the colonizer. I guess it really would have been a wrench to Obama to invite over for coffee, the 5 other Black males who could have stopped Troy Davis' murder but didn't : after all, they'd all have Black Faces and White Masks like him, and unlike the cop who busted his friend Henry Louis Gates trying to break into his own house – the White Masks of Obama and his ilk aren't an immediately observable visual, but they are there – and they look just like Willie Lynch and govern themselves accordingly. So what/who is more dangerous: those who collectively 'vote' for a festering evil or the evil itself? Neither Troy Davis nor Oscar Grant III nor Kenneth Harding could vote – and we failed them by not 'rendering impassable with our bodies, the corridor to the gas chamber.' Thus, the bright flame that is the spirits of Troy, Martina, and Virginia still burns for us, even in death – reminding us all by their shining example, of what is still needing to be done, and what we'd better do. The jack boots are at the door, in the living room, sitting at the table eating our food. What we gon' do? ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE

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