Two Songs For Troy Davis

By Arturo R. García

A decision is expected today on the fate of Troy Davis, the Georgia man seeking to avoid the death penalty for the 1989 murder of Savannah, Ga., police officer Mark MacPhail.

Davis is currently scheduled to be executed on Wednesday. But even as Davis’ past attempts to clear his name have been rejected in the court system, seven of nine witnesses in his case have recanted their prior statements, with many of them saying their testimony was tainted by police pressure.

One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his story, Sylvester “Red” Coles, has been implicated in the crime by the other seven in subsequent affadavits.

Davis’ plight has inspired at least two songs: in the first video, “I Am Troy Davis,” rapper Jasiri X lays out the case over the beat from Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y),” while questioning the state of Georgia’s judicial system:

The system’s broke so fixed
2 decades no Christmas
Execution dates 4 listed
get organized show resistance
go online sign those petitions
Black Americans know the difference
It’s a new day but the same old lynching

The second, “Song for Troy Davis,” by singer/songwriter Nellie McKay, is mostly fueled by audio from news reports regarding the case and a statement from Davis himself:

This is Troy Anthony Davis, and I’ve been sitting on georgia’s death row for 16 years for a crime i did not commit. It’s a struggle for me and my family, as well as the victim’s family, who I sympathize with dearly. Because they have been cheated out of justice, just as I have. Because of Amnesty’s [International’s] assistance, I am still sitting here alive today being able to have a conversation. I want to continue to urge you to sign the Amnesty petitions. This situation could have happened to anyone, but it needs to start with me.

Davis’ plight has attracted more support for him over the past few days, with another protest scheduled for Tuesday morning in Atlanta.

Besides Amnesty International, groups like Color Of Change and the NAACP have also joined the efforts to spare Davis’ life. If they are successful, it would be the second high-profile execution to be stayed in the past two weeks, following a Sept. 15 order from the Supreme Court delaying the execution of Duane E. Buck in Texas, based on racially-biased testimony against him by a prison psychologist.

Update: The Associated Press is reporting that Davis’ bid for clemency was rejected by the Board of Pardons and Paroles. You can e-mail the Chatham County District Attorney’s office here, or by phone at 912-652-7308 to request a stay of execution for Davis.

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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  • Anonymous

    Regardless of the outcome in this instance (and I certainly don’t mean to belittle this situation), I really hope this generates more juice for the abolishment of the death penalty. The more I think about it, the more ridiculous and illogical capital punishment becomes in my mind. The only way we will guarantee innocent people are not murdered by the State is through abolishing the death penalty. This is another example of American exceptionalism gone horribly wrong. Can we please enter the 21st century?

  • Roxie

    RT @ATLcatalyst: RT @BanTshirts Troy Davis execution: Georgia pardons board denies plea for clemency #justice #law #fail