In the latter half of 2011, the United States was submerged in a debate over the use of the death penalty. The cause of the debate was the pending and ultimate execution of Troy Anthony Davis. The purpose of this independent study is to determine why there were so many people who participated in the movement to save Davis’ life. This project connects the long history of race centered, social movements, geared to stop the deaths of African Americans to the movement centered around Davis. The actions of different leaders, organizers, participants, and supporters of the movement are also analyzed to determine how instrumental they were in getting people to join the cause. Critical Race Theory and Social Movement Theory are used to frame my argument. Scholars in recent years have spent a great deal of time studying how race is still prevalent in an era many have deemed post-racial; this paper adds on to that scholarship. In the end, this project is meant to show how one man’s execution brought forth a social movement that awoke people to the racial injustices of America’s justice system.


Wright, Josephine

Second Advisor

Sene, Ibra


Africana Studies; History


African American Studies | Social History | United States History


Troy Davis, social movements

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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