|Esther Brown's Tribute to Darrell Grayson. The State of Alabama took his life yesterday. |
By Esther Brown with poetry by Darrell Grayson
Jul 27, 2007, 08:57
I dedicate this award to my very dear friend, the Chairman of PHADP, Darrell B. Grayson.
I do not dedicate it to Darrell because he has an execution date; I do not dedicate it to him because he came from a highly dysfunctional, poor family and was a high school drop out; I do not dedicate it to him because he had an all white jury and a divorce attorney at his trial who suggested he throw himself on the mercy of the court, a court which did not know the meaning of justice, let alone mercy. I do not dedicate this award to Darrell because when I found evidence six years ago which could clear him and the Innocence Project took his case because they too believed in his innocence, the courts denied him DNA testing, no, not for any of these reasons, although they would be more than enough.
I dedicate it to Darrell because living in the darkness and the horror of death row he decided he would leave the world better than he found it. And if this claim can be made for anyone, I make it for him. Not only did Darrell obtain a two year associate degree when that was still possible on death row but he began to write poetry which has been widely published. The Birmingham Arts Review, Axis of Logic, Right Hand Pointing, The Dead Mule have to name a few, published Darrell’s works. He also became an associate writer for the East Alabama black newspaper, The People’s Voice and has three chapbooks to his credit. But this is not all, most important of all, for the past seven years he has been the chairman of our organization and the editor of On Wings of Hope. In these roles he is the mentor and father figure for our board and has touched lives, which had never experienced a caring father, let alone one who challenged them to succeed because he believed in their god given potential.
Darrell believes in justice without ever having obtained it. He believes in service to others in a place where many curl up in the fetal position and think only of themselves. When you give me this award tonight you give it not just to me but also to my brothers on death row and especially to Darrell Grayson without whose support you would not be honoring me.
I want to leave you with this challenge. If Darrell can achieve all he has, be all he is, there is not one of us here tonight who cannot also fight for justice and change. We owe it to him, we owe it to our children, we owe it to ourselves. We cannot allow darkness and injustice to win. We must, each and every one of us embrace Hope and stand up and fight for justice now!