The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s Insult to Angela Davis Has Boomeranged

Scholars, activists, and grassroots organizers have flocked to her defense, a testament to the growing strength of intersectional solidarity for Palestinian rights.

By Mairav Zonszein

JANUARY 15, 2019

Angela Davis speaking
Angela Davis speaks during her visit to the University of Michigan in Flint, Michigan, on February 19, 2015. (AP / The Flint Journal, Jake May)

It has been nearly two weeks since the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute walked back its decision to honor renowned scholar, civil-rights activist, and Birmingham, Alabama, native Angela Davis with its annual Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, and yet the BCRI remains embarrassingly silent over what led to the withdrawal. It issued a statement on January 14 through an external PR firm, which is apparently handling all further media inquiries, in which it assumed responsibility and apologized for the poor handling of the award and its aftermath. “In hindsight, more time, conversation and consideration of diverse viewpoints should have informed our decision to rescind our nomination, and we were silent for too long afterward.”

Davis, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin, and local reports all indicate the decision was largely, though not exclusively, due to pressure from Jewish individuals and organizations over Davis’s outspokenness on Palestinian human rights and vocal support for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel….

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