If the whole point behind continuing to seek the execution of Troy Anthony Davis after his two decades on death row in Georgia has been to take another life in exchange for that of slain officer Mark Allen MacPhail, some may say that Davis’s mother, Virginia Davis, paid that price on her son’s behalf when she passed April 12, 2011, in Savannah, Georgia, at the age of 65.
According to Martina Davis-Correia, the inmate’s sister and principal advocate, their mother had not been ill. “I think she just had a broken heart,” she told reporters.
Families of both Davis and MacPhail have been the broken-hearted bystanders as supposed witnesses, lawyers, judges, and high courts have maintained a Kafkaesque atmosphere in which all attempts at determining a definitive truth in the case have been blocked by technicalities rather than resolved by confirmations.
In the process, Davis himself has been scheduled for death at least three times and each time has received a reprieve in the face of substantial doubt regarding his guilt and the lack of court-approved evidence substantiating his innocence. The most recent refusal by the U.S. Supreme Court to grant Davis another appeal has basically cleared the way to schedule his execution once again. Equally significant over the past twenty years has been the growth of Officer MacPhail’s children from the toddlers he left behind into adults haunted by a lack of closure in regard to their father’s life and death.
One Son’s Mother
Of all the family members on both sides of this on-going tragedy, possibly none endured quite as much as Virginia Davis. She not only must have wrestled with numerous questions and fears regarding the Davis/MacPhail case over the past two decades, but had to have been deeply troubled to see her daughter Martina suffering from stage four cancer even as that same daughter set aside her own pain to travel world-wide and address audiences on behalf of her brother.
Yet Virginia Davis’s concern in this case was not restricted to her son or her daughter. While holding steadfast to the belief that her son is innocent, she also expressed compassion for the MacPhail family and the hope that “the one who really killed” Officer MacPhail would be found and prosecuted.
Virginia Davis was a native Savannahian and a 1963 graduate of the city’s historic Beach High School (also alma mater to Savannah Mayor Otis Johnson).Like many African Americans of her generation in Savannah, she was a participant in the Civil Rights Movement and consequently set an example of what it means to struggle for one’s rights and belief in truth. In addition to personal religious activities and family involvement, she also contributed to the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer and the National Breast Cancer Coalition.
This is the 13th installment of Aberjhani’s Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis Series. For part one, please click here. To make sure you catch future installments, please sign up for a free subscription.
Aberjhani, National African American Art Examiner
author ofThe River of Winged Dreams
and co-author ofEncyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Read More of Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 1 The Inmate on Death Row
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 2 The World and Mr. Davis
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 3 The Slain Officer MacPhail
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 4 The Grass Roots Response
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 5 Race Death and Justice in America
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 6 Supreme Court Says Yes
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 7 Twentieth Anniversary
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis 8 Hearing Date Set
Savannah talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 9 Court date changes
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 10 Hearing Continues
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 11 Judge Rules No
Savannah Talks Troy Anthony Davis No. 12 Death of Virginia Davis