After the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute rescinded an invitation to honor activist Angela Davis with its human rights award, the 74-year-old scholar expressed her disappointment saying she was “stunned” but still plans to be in town for an alternative event, Al.com reports.
“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,” Davis said in a statement released on Monday.
The award was set to be bestowed upon the legendary activist during the Annual Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award Gala on Feb. 16 in Birmingham, but was rescinded by the board after they received complaints based on Davis’ history.
The board said, Davis’ nomination caused some concern after “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’s board said in a statement posted to its website.
Davis added that BCRI board of directors, “refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action.”
However, she learned “my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue.”
“This seemed particularly unfortunate,” she said, “given that my own freedom was secured – and indeed my life was saved – by a vast international movement.
“And I have devoted much of my own activism to international solidarity and, specifically, to linking struggles in other parts of the world to U.S. grassroots campaigns against police violence, the prison industrial complex, and racism more broadly.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the complaints were primarily from the “local Jewish community and some of its allies.” Davis has criticized treatment of Palestinians by the Israeli government and has voiced outspoken support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that targets the administration of Israel’s president Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The rescinding of this invitation was thus not primarily an attack against me but rather against the spirit of the indivisibility of justice,” Davis wrote in her statement
“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. I have indeed expressed opposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel, as I express similar opposition to U.S. support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to other discriminatory U.S. policies.”
PalestineLegal.org on Monday released a statement in support of Davis to AL.com:
“The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI)’s decision to rescind an honor previously extended to Angela Davis is only the latest incident in a well-documented nationwide campaign to censor and punish critics of Israel. Davis joins a long list of scholars and activists who have been censored, fired, de-funded, defamed, harassed and targeted with frivolous litigation because of concerted efforts by the Israeli government and anti-Palestinian organizations in the U.S. to silence debate.”
Davis continued to express her disappointment with the BCRI’s decision.
“[It] was certain to be the highlight of my year,” she said, “especially since I knew Rev. Shuttlesworth personally and attended school with his daughter, Patricia, and because my mother, Sallye B. Davis, worked tirelessly for the BCRI during its early years.”