March honors executed woman

September 13, 2005

Randolph County- As their feet hit the pavement, members and supporters of the Prison and Jail Project are focused on fighting injustice. It's a road they say is long and hard, but can be victorious.

"This year we're lifting up the Lena Baker tragedy, as we come into Cuthbert over the next few days we'll be talking about her life, tragic execution death, and it's just coincidental that she received this posthumous pardon in advance of the Freedomwalk," says director John Cole Vodicka.

So participants say this year's walk is more of a celebration for Baker, a woman they say was wrongfully convicted and executed for murder.

"For us it was about a seven year effort to kind of lift her story up and out of the grave literally, and to let folks know that this woman was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die, and executed wrongfully," says Vodicka.

Walk organizers say Lena Baker's pardon represents a shift in the legal system and they hope her case will bring new life to others like it.

"Our work is ongoing. If we had to measure our work by the victories, or the number of people we're able to get out of jail, or into a alternative setting, we'd be miserably failing in many people's eyes. But you have to be patient. You have to persevere."

They must persevere because even the demonstrators admit the journey for justice is a long one.

A one-women play entitled "Who Will Sing for Lena?" will be performed Tuesday night at 7:30 at Randolph-Clay High School. It's based on the life, trial, and execution of Lena Baker.

You can also see the play Wednesday night at 7:30 at the Civil Rights Movement Museum in Albany.