Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Reverses Decision To Honor Angela Davis After Outcry From Jewish Community
The ex-Black Panther Party member has since offered a statement on the incident.
Angela Davis was slated to be honored by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) during a ceremony in the museum’s gala next month but after receiving backlash from city’s Jewish community, the institute has rescinded its offering to the ex-Black Panther Party member, activist, and Birmingham native.
“In September of 2018, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Board of Directors selected Angela Davis to receive the prestigious Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual gala in February 2019,” a statement posted on the BCRI’s website read.
“In late December, supporters and other concerned individuals and organizations, both inside and outside of our local community, began to make requests that we reconsider our decision. Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based. Therefore, on January 4, BCRI’s Board voted to rescind its invitation to Ms. Davis to honor her with the Shuttlesworth Award. While we recognize Ms. Davis’ stature as a scholar and prominent figure in civil rights history, we believe this decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth. We regret that this change is necessary, and apologize to our supporters, the community and Ms. Davis for the confusion we have caused. We will move forward with a keen focus on our mission: to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future. The associated gala event, scheduled for February 16th at Haven has been canceled. Ticket purchasers will receive a full refund.”
Following BRCI’s statement, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin also released a statement, revealing that the honor was rescinded after outcry from the city’s local Jewish community.
“I am dismayed because this controversy is playing out in a way that harks backward, rather than forward,” Woodfin said, adding that the decision “portrays us as the same Birmingham we always have been, rather than the one we want to be.”
Davis said she was “stunned” by the institute’s decision to reverse the honor but said she’ll still be in Birmingham for another event, according to al.com.
“Despite the BCRI’s regrettable decision,” she said, “I look forward to being in Birmingham in February for an alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us.”
The activist also said that the BRIC “refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action,” and later learned that the reason for their decision was because of her “long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue.”
Davis’ support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which is trying to rectify Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, is what incited the outcry against her honoring. As the Root notes, shortly after her honoring was announced, Southern Jewish Life magazine published an article commenting on Davis’ views.
“…Davis has also been an outspoken voice in the boycott-Israel movement, and advocates extensively on college campuses for the isolation of the Jewish state, saying Israel engages in ethnic cleansing and is connected to police violence against African-Americans in the United States,” the article reads.