With the stick swinging the piñata at full force, the grandson of Shaka Sankofa literally knocked the head off Texas Gov. Rick Perry as the 250th execution under Perry’s watch was being carried out in Huntsville, Texas, on Oct. 31. Donnie Roberts Jr. was executed as activists in Houston gathered at a 400-year-old tree, officially known as the “Old Oak Hanging Tree,” where people were lynched during the 1800s. A four-foot likeness of Perry was beaten until it was just shreds of paper and wire and all 250 pieces of black-wrapped candy — each with one of Perry’s victim’s names written on it — had fallen to the sidewalk.
Then Sankofa’s three grandchildren, Shardiasha Haywood, Shaka Sankofa Haywood and Jontaisha Hawkins, began the reading of Perry’s 250 victims. Sankofa was executed on June 22, 2000. More than 20 activists took the microphone and as each name was read, the utter horror of what Perry has done was made public.
“In 12 years as Texas governor, [Perry] has set a record that will never be matched by any other U.S. governor — 250 executions. The death penalty will be history before anyone [else] could ever hit this unthinkable milestone,” said Abolition Movement organizer Pat Hartwell. Nation of Islam Mosque 45 Minister Robert Muhammad had witnessed Sankofa’s execution; he told the crowd that we must never let his execution be in vain, that the fight for abolition must intensify.