6.22.2010

I am Shaka Sankofa & Troy Davis: Remembering one and praying for the other.


Lest we forget.

On June 22, 2000, Shaka Sankofa (born Gary Graham) was executed by lethal injection at 8:49 pm in Huntsville, Texas despite strong claims of innocence. Shaka was a Texas death-row inmate who was sentenced to death at the age of 18 for the murder of Bobby Grant Lambert in Houston in 1981. Shaka and supporters maintained his innocence throughout the nineteen years he spent on death row. Sankofa became the 23rd inmate executed in Texas during 2000 under then Texas Governor George W. Bush.

Sankofa's supporters included the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Coretta Scott King, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Rev. Al Sharpton, rev. Jesse Jackson, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte and Ruby Dee. I witnessed on the grounds work back then from groups and community leaders such as Student Minister Robert Muhammad (Nation of Islam), Kofi Taharka (National Black United Front), Shaka's family, Gloria Rubac (Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement), (Krystal Muhammad (New Black Panther Party) and more. Minister Robert was one of the persons who witnessed the execution inside the prison walls.

(NBUF Community Work-in letters)
On yesterday, June 21, NBUF hosted its annual community work-in at their Houston headquarters to discuss the case of Shaka ten years later, the prison industrial complex and sign letters for prisoners of war. Another Shaka remembrance gathering is scheduled to take place tonight at the Shape Community Center (3815 Live Oak) at 7:00PM.

"The 10 year battle waged to save his life and expose the white supremacist system encompassed local, national and international formations from every social, political, economic and religious strata. One of the aspects of this struggle perhaps most impressive to me was it touched the grassroots youth of our community locally. The local Hip-Hop community and street soldiers supported in different ways the efforts to save his life. This fact eludes many efforts today. The support from the youth can be partially credited to Sister Krystal Muhammad. She helped take it right to the streets. In addition, Shaka had an uncanny way of reaching people from death row," said Kofi Taharka.

In part of his final words, Shaka Sankofa said:

"This is nothing more than pure and simple murder. This is what is happening tonight in America. Nothing more than state sanctioned murders, state sanctioned lynching, right here in America, and right here tonight. This is what is happening my brothers. Nothing less. They know I'm innocent. They've got the facts to prove it. They know I'm innocent. But they cannot acknowledge my innocence, because to do so would be to publicly admit their guilt. This is something these racist people will never do. We must remember brothers, this is what we're faced with. You must take this endeavor forward. You must stay strong. You must continue to hold your heads up, and to be there. And I love you, too, my brother. All of you who are standing with me in solidarity. We will prevail. We will keep marching. Keep marching Black people, Black power. Keep marching Black people, Black power. Keep marching Black people. Keep marching Black people. They are killing me tonight. They are murdering me tonight."

I am Shaka Sankofa.


On June 23, the evidentiary hearing for death row inmate Troy Davis will take place in a Savannah federal district court. According to his sister, Martina Correia, Mr. Davis is in a great spirit and prayerful about the pending outcome.

“Troy is in total prayer, asking God to deliver him. He says people keep asking him why he’s not upset or broken down by now. It is because he believes God is protecting him," Ms. Correia told me in a phone interview for an upcoming article in The Final Call newspaper.

In August of last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the federal court in Savannah to hear Mr. Davis' innocence claim. In a 29-page order, overseeing Chief U.S. District Judge William T. Moore Jr. granted Mr. Davis' defense team and the state the opportunity to file their respective lists of all affidavits, witnesses, and other key evidence. The evidentiary hearing has now been rescheduled from its original June 30 date.

Supporters, such as Amnesty International and the NAACP, have also called for a global day of solidarity to be marked on June 22. The stated purpose is to keep attention on developments in Mr. Davis’ case and to remain vigilant as the court reviews the new evidence.

Ms. Correia said that activities on this day will include candlelight vigils, prayer services, teach-ins, petition drives and more.

“People will be gathering at courthouses, embassies, religious houses, and in the streets for this international day of prayer for my brother. News media from all over the world are coming to cover this from parts of the Middle East, Africa and more. The world will be watching,” Ms. Correia said.

For more information please log on to: www.troyanthonydavis.org

I am Troy Davis.