Earlier this year, it was announced that iconic civil rights activist Angela Davis would be honored with the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at a gala in her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, given by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI).
Then all of a sudden the BCRI reversed its decision about awarded Davis after Jewish groups objected to Davis’s support of a boycott of Israel and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The BDS is a global campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel over its oppression of Palestinians.
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“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,” the Institute said in a statement.
“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,” the statement continued.
So now the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), a founding member of the BDS movement for Palestinian rights, has announced it will honor Davis “for her lifelong struggle for justice and expresses its full solidarity with her,” the BDS website reported.
“Our deep disappointment with the BCRI’s decision is tempered not only by the huge outpouring of support Davis has received but also by her resolve to instead attend an alternative event that will emphasize the organic link between the struggle for justice locally and globally,” the organization said in a statement.
Professor Davis, an author, educator, academic, and writer, too was surprised by the BCRI decision.
On Facebook, Davis posted: “I support Palestinian political prisoners just as I support current political prisoners in the Basque Country, in Catalunya, in India, and in other parts of the world.”
She added: “I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to US support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory US policies.”
Randall Woodfin, Birmingham’s mayor,also voiced his regret at BCRI’s decision to rescind the award.
“I am dismayed because this controversy is playing out in a way that harks backward, rather than forward — that portrays us as the same Birmingham we always have been, rather than the one we want to be,” Woodfin said, the National reported. “I am dismayed because I believe that we should be able to expect better, from ourselves and from one another.”
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