Standing with Angela Davis

15 Jan

By Abby Zimet, CommonDreams, 7 January 2019.
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) in Alabama has come under righteous fire after caving to Zionist pressure and rescinding its decision to award the prestigious Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to  activist, academic, black icon, daughter of Birmingham and supporter of the BDS movement Angela Davis, who’s spent decades fighting for the civil rights they supposedly stand for. In October, the Institute said they were “thrilled to bestow this honor” on Davis, “one of the most globally recognized champions of human rights, giving voice to those who are powerless to speak.”
Now they’ve taken back the offer and cancelled the February gala where she would have received it because “upon closer examination of Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria” for the award. Noting Davis’ passionate criticism of Israel’s ethnic cleansing, activists promptly called bullshit.
“To argue that Angela Davis is unworthy of a civil rights award is beyond shameful,” said Jewish Voice For Peace. “And to dance around the fact that it’s due to her outspoken support of Palestinian rights makes it outrageous.”
Born in Birmingham and raised on “Dynamite Hill” – so dubbed because it was often bombed – Davis, 74, has long called out the injustices of the prison industrial complex, the connections between racist violence and capitalism, and violence against black women. But it’s her longtime support for Palestinian rights that evidently sparked the ire of Zionists, both Jewish groups like the Birmingham Jewish Federation and powerful pro-Israel evangelical Christians. Using the hashtag#IStandWithAngela, critics blasted craven Institute members for crumbling under such pressure. From the ACLU’s Jamil Dakwar: “Calling to boycott Israel for violating int’l law and human rights is not only a constitutionally protected right, but the right thing to do.”
Rejecting Davis, many locals said, is also an insult to the award’s namesake, Birmingham minister, civil rights activist, and “warrior” Fred Shuttlesworth. “Who can we, as the Black community, honor?” asked Ahmad Ward, noting with shame that Davis’ hometown has called “unworthy” a woman who’s a hero to many and wondering, “Will you have this same energy when we are shot dead in the street and people find every reason possible for why we deserved it?” Davis herself was “stunned” to hear of the Institute’s decision, but she sees it as “not primarily an attack against me but rather against the spirit of the indivisibility of justice.” She still plans to go to Birmingham for an alternative event because the fight for civil rights “demands a robust discussion of all the injustices that surround us” – and because she knows by now, as one of her books proclaims, that “freedom is a constant struggle.”


What’s happening to Angela Davis is outrageous and a dishonor to her decades of critical human rights work. Please support this call now:

Join the growing call to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute to honor Professor Davis.

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