Giving Thanks for a Sister and Prophet: Martina Davis Correia

Martina Davis Correia

Martina Davis Correia

Our friend and fellow warrior for human rights, Martina Davis Correia, has passed on.  She stopped breathing at about 6:28pm on December 1st in Savannah, Georgia while I stood near her hospital bed along with family and friends.  She passed in peace, though she endured a painful struggle following the failure of a liver that had taken a severe beating in the course of 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 a conviction that we wish our leaders in power had.  But while millions would come to hear her story, she began as a voice crying in the wilderness speaking to very small groups.  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.  Traditional and social media coverage of the Davis story expanded the audience to hundreds of millions of people and about a million signed the petitions for clemency.  No exaggeration.

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 inspired so many people to get involved with the effort to abolish the death penalty as an important imperative within the larger struggle for human rights.  She motivated us when the struggle seemed difficult and insurmountable.  She compelled us to fight hard for justice; after all, if this odds-defying woman was battling cancer, raising a son and working hard to save her brother, in a hostile environment, there was nothing we could not do.

It was indeed a privilege to work side-by-side with her in our campaign for her brother’s life.  Through hard, persistent and inspired work, we built this movement together.  For over a decade, Martina was a volunteer leader with Amnesty International, working on a variety of issues, though specializing in death penalty abolition work.  She came to Amnesty because she believed in her brother and wanted to help him and countless others who faced injustice.  It was never just about her brother – her vision was always bigger.

Martina fought her deteriorating body every step of the way to hold onto life and to be in this world for her family and for the human family.  Her body finally gave out, living eleven years longer than doctors predicted she would.  It is unimaginable what stress and hardship she and her family faced having a loved one on death row who was almost executed three times, then finally killed by the state she called home and in the country she served as a military and civilian nurse.  Martina’s mother, though in perfect health, died shortly after Troy Davis’ final appeal was denied and a few months before his execution.  The families of murder victims and the families of death row prisoners endure enormous pain.  The death penalty is horrifically destructive, creating a downward spiral of violence that drags so many people down in its wake.  We must end it so that an authentic justice that brings us accountability, healing and a better future can take root and blossom.

When I was in the hospital on Martina’s final day, I asked her sister Kim if the crowd of visiting friends jammed in the hospital room should leave to give her and her family some time alone with Martina.  Kim said without hesitation, “No, that’s Ok, we’re all family here.”  And that’s exactly what Martina, Troy and the other Davises believed too.  We’re all part of one human family.  Our destinies are connected.  Our rights, our dignity and our well-being are connected.  Martina, sister warrior, we love you, we are deeply thankful you were here.  We know your spirit is still joined with ours to carry on the struggle for the rights of everyone in the human family.

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18 thoughts on “Giving Thanks for a Sister and Prophet: Martina Davis Correia

  1. RIP Martina, we will miss you our sister warrior. We will keep fighting for the humanity.
    My prayers and thoughts are with the Davis family
    Lots of love

  2. Thank you seems to fall short for a life so well lived . . . We will miss you as we try to fill your very big shoes and carry on your work.

    Peace~

  3. Laura:

    So beautifully said! Thank you from all of us who loved Martina and have been inspired by her.

    Sheila

  4. RIP Martina, we will miss you our sister warrior. We will keep fighting for the humanity.
    My prayers and thoughts are with the Davis family
    Lots of love

  5. Both Troy and Martina will continue to live within all of us as we fight to end the death penalty forever. Rest in peace, Martina.

    My best wishes to her family and friends in this time.

  6. Thank you seems to fall short for a life so well lived . . . We will miss you as we try to fill your very big shoes and carry on your work.

    Peace~

  7. Laura:

    So beautifully said! Thank you from all of us who loved Martina and have been inspired by her.

    Sheila

  8. Eloquent and heartfelt as always, Laura. Harder almost than the others to read b/c you were right there, and that means she's really gone. Not sure when I'll get over this one.

  9. Both Troy and Martina will continue to live within all of us as we fight to end the death penalty forever. Rest in peace, Martina.

    My best wishes to her family and friends in this time.

  10. Eloquent and heartfelt as always, Laura. Harder almost than the others to read b/c you were right there, and that means she’s really gone. Not sure when I’ll get over this one.

  11. RIP Ms. Martina Davis Correia. Your strength, determination and power were a true inspiration to millions of people, as you so bravely fought for your brother's life.
    My condolences once again go out to the entire Davis family, and I hope that they know that both Martina and Troy will be catalysts for change. They are an inspiration to all of us, and will NEVER be forgotten.

  12. RIP Ms. Martina Davis Correia. Your strength, determination and power were a true inspiration to millions of people, as you so bravely fought for your brother’s life.
    My condolences once again go out to the entire Davis family, and I hope that they know that both Martina and Troy will be catalysts for change. They are an inspiration to all of us, and will NEVER be forgotten.

  13. Martina was a giant among us. Her inspiration will carry us forward in our struggle to end the death penalty. She sacrificed herself mightly to save Troy.

    May Martina and Troy now Rest in Peace.

  14. Martina was a giant among us. Her inspiration will carry us forward in our struggle to end the death penalty. She sacrificed herself mightly to save Troy.

    May Martina and Troy now Rest in Peace.

  15. My heart goes out to all of the Davis/Correia family right now as the reality of their tremendous loss sets in and the painful journey begins of their lives without the three incredible family members they lost this year. The spirits of Martina, Troy, and their amazing mother have not departed us, however, as they live on in ALL of us who will forever remain inspired by them as we fight with more force than EVER for justice, for ALL of the Troy Davises who need us, in their struggle for justice!!

  16. My heart goes out to all of the Davis/Correia family right now as the reality of their tremendous loss sets in and the painful journey begins of their lives without the three incredible family members they lost this year. The spirits of Martina, Troy, and their amazing mother have not departed us, however, as they live on in ALL of us who will forever remain inspired by them as we fight with more force than EVER for justice, for ALL of the Troy Davises who need us, in their struggle for justice!!