Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
With the execution date for Troy Davis nearing, Darby Tillis made a guest appearance at KSU. He told his story of how he was exonerated in 1987 after spending nine years on death row, to a room full of First-Year Seminar students.
Tillis rode a Greyhound bus for 21 hours from Chicago in order to support the ‘Rally to Save Troy Davis’ at the Georgia State Capital, sponsored by Amnesty International and the NAACP, held on Sept. 11. Davis is a man on Georgia’s death row who was given an execution date of Sept. 23.
After serving two years, Tillis was convicted on Oct. 15, 1979 of murdering two men. Although there was never any evidence that linked him to those killings, he was imprisoned, tried and sentenced to death. It took not one, but five trials to set him free. Three of the trials ended in a hung jury, one was guilty and the last one set him free.
A self-proclaimed “urban guerilla street preacher,” Tillis sang and smiled as he told the students how he was just “a number on a legal brief.” He talked about the joy of living and how he wants to build a better system to eliminate the killings of death row inmates. “Realize that we have a system that is far from good and go after change and make changes,” said Tillis.
When asked what would he like the students to learn from his lecture, his response was, “look deep into the justice system; look at the flaws. The death penalty makes no purpose; take a stand and make it better.”
Patrick Dyer, professor of the 1101 class, said, “I hope that the students who attended will think about the role of capital punishment in society, and critically examine this practice.”
Tillis was the first to be exonerated; since then at least 129 innocent people have walked off of death row.
According to Dyer, this topic relates to one of KSU 1101’s major learning objectives--that of developing the foundations for global learning. As part of global learning, the class engages in educational discussion on ethics, leadership, citizenship, global perspectives, diversity, inclusiveness and critical thinking.
Dyer said, “Since Tillis had a couple of hours free Thursday morning, we scrambled to arrange for him to speak at KSU.”
Immediately after his talk, Tillis was shuttled downtown to be part of a contingent that hand delivered over 23,000 petition signatures to the Board of Pardons and Parole, asking that Troy Davis not be executed.
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