Davis’ execution is but one example of a Georgia’s unbalanced justice system, and many GA residents including Big Boi and Killer Mike have joined in the march for truth being that there was way too much doubt in the case for the state to take this man’s life. Television Judge Greg Mathis even expressed outrage, stating that Georgia had “blood on it’s hands” for proceeding with the execution.
Lena Baker, an African-American mother of three holds the esteemed honor of being the only woman ever electrocuted in Georgia’s electric chair, she was also issued a pardon 6 decades after her 1945 death by execution.
Baker was convicted for the fatal shooting of E. B. Knight, a white Cuthbert, Georgia mill operator she was hired to care for after he broke his leg. She was 44 at the time of her execution.
During her brief trial, Baker testified that Knight held her against her will in a grist mill and threatened to shoot her if she tried to leave. She said she grabbed Knight’s gun and shot him when he raised a metal bar to strike her.
Unfortunately for Baker, her story wasn’t enough for the justice system in Georgia. She was a Black woman on trial for killing a White man and her fate was sealed. Being accused of such a crime in the segregated south in the 1940’s, Baker’s life was a done deal!
The director of an Americus-based inmate advocacy program known as the Prison and Jail Project, said Knight had kept Ms. Baker as his “virtual sex slave.” She was his paramour, she was his mistress, and, among other things, his drinking partner.
If you read the transcript and have any understanding of black-white relations, Black women were often subjected to the sexual whims of their white masters, their white bosses, or some white man who had control over their lives or the lives of their families. “Here is one who resisted and paid the price.”
Baker was sentenced to death following a one-day trial before an all-white, all-male jury.
Similar to Troy Davis’ final letter to supporters, Lena Baker publicly stated her innocence to the very end.
“What I done, I did in self-defense,” she said in her final statement. “I have nothing against anyone. I am ready to meet my God.”
The mother of 3, who had but a sixth-grade education, was murdered in the State of Georgia’s electric chair at the State Prison in Reidsville.
The undertaker who brought Baker’s body back to her hometown, buried her in a grave that went unmarked for five decades. It wasn’t until the congregation of Mount Vernon Baptist Church raised $250 for a concrete slab and marker that Baker’s grave was finally marked.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles said that while they did not find Baker innocent of the crime, they did find that the decision to deny her clemency in 1945 “was a grievous error, as this case called out for mercy.”
“I believe she’s somewhere around God’s throne and can look down and smile,” said Baker’s grandnephew, Roosevelt Curry, who has led the family’s effort to clear her name.
So yeah… Baker finally found justice, but only after she was killed by the State of Georgia.
We Can probably expect the same for Troy Davis. Too little… way too late.
The Lena Baker Story, a novel authored by Lela Bond Phillips, chronicles Baker’s life and struggles on Georgia’s death row. The book was the basis for a screenplay by actor/director Ralph Wilcox filmed in 2007 in Southwest Georgia.
Click here to purchase on Amazon.
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