Trying to make sense of out something senseless often doesn’t make sense.
I had the opportunity to meet Travis at Injustice Square Park, as many of us did following the tragic murder of Breonna Taylor. Whether you knew him by Travis or his nickname Cairo, whether you were at Injustice Square Park one day or over 100 days, everyone knew the young man with the huge voice, megaphone and big curly hair.
Travis quickly emerged as a leader, megaphone in hand, leading us through the streets of Louisville demanding justice for Breonna Taylor. Sadly, as the days turned into weeks, we continued to add names to our list of chants: David McAtee and Tyler Gerth. Tragically, Travis Nagdy’s name joins the chorus of names that have defined an era in Louisville’s fight for justice.
When I first learned of the murder of Travis, I was devastated. How does this city continue to put out the flames of our brightest candles? Travis was in the process of becoming, and all that he would be, we will not have the chance to experience.
One thing that I believe is vitally important when someone passes are their last words. The weight of a person’s last words is often too heavy for many people to bear. The last words someone utters are so powerful that the court of laws deems them a dying declaration and will usually admit a person’s last words into evidence. Typically, a person’s last words are what is extremely important to them. Travis’ last words to this community are sealed on Facebook. After hearing of another police-involved shooting, Travis’s statement is just one sentence, “All hands on deck 22 & Gilligan.”
What was essential to Travis is that all hands were on deck. That we don’t get complacent. That we continue to do the work. That we continue the fight for justice. And it cannot just be a few of us demanding justice and equality in our city and throughout the nation but All hands must be on deck! All hands must be ready to do the work. All hands are needed if we are going to change the state of this nation.
Travis gave us our marching orders when he started his organization Keep Going, based on the quote by Harriet Tubman, “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.”
I know this is a difficult moment. Many of us have lost a friend, a brother, someone so dear to us; many of us older than him considered him a son. The pain is there. The hurt is real. But Travis told us what to do, and by doing that, we honor the short but incredibly deep life he lead.
All Hands On Deck! And Keep Going!
Mama, mama can’t you see…
What the system’s done to me
They locked us up
They put us down
Aint’ no justice in this town…
Hannah L. Drake is an author, poet and spoken word artist. Follow her at writesomeshit.com and on Twitter at hannahdrake628.