‘An attack against the spirit of the indivisibility of justice’: Angela Y. Davis statement on the cancellation of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute award

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On Saturday January 5, I was stunned to learn that the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Board of Directors had reversed their previous decision to award me the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. Although the BCRI refused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action, I later learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue.  This seemed particularly unfortunate, 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.  The rescinding of this invitation was thus not primarily an attack against me but rather against the spirit of the indivisibility of justice.

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.  Through my experiences at Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late fifties and early sixties, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to antisemitism as to racism. It was during this period that I was also introduced to the Palestinian cause. I am proud to have worked closely with Jewish organizations and individuals on issues of concern to all of our communities throughout my life. In many ways, this work has been integral to my growing consciousness regarding the importance of protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The trip to Birmingham, where I was born and raised, to receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Award, was certain to be the highlight of my year—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.  Moreover, my most inspirational Sunday School teacher Odessa Woolfolk was the driving force for the institute’s creation. Despite the BCRI’s regrettable decision, 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.

Angela Y. Davis

January 7, 2019

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Same story reported in Electronic Intifada with some interesting details: Roy S. Johnson, a columnist for several Alabama newspapers, revealed Monday that those demanding the cancellation were “primarily – though not exclusively – from the city’s Jewish leadership, according to a source familiar with a decision that transpired quickly, and stunningly, in a span of just a few days.”…Last month, Southern Jewish Life, a communal publication serving southern states, ran an article criticizing the… Read more »

check out this video/news reports.

Activists are calling on the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI) leadership to resign. they are calling for a boycott of the institute. they sound serious! Alabama’s NAACP is not happy!

I may have contracted some of Phil’s optimism, but I think that US Zionism’s repeated attacks upon free speech in the US (and elsewhere, e.g., the UK) will be a main element in undermining their defense of the indefensible in Palestine.

We will destroy the planet in twelve years, and this cretins are haggling over an Angela Davis invitation.

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“We have met the enemy, and he is us”–Pogo

I was a college student in Moscow when Angela Davis came to the Soviet Union on the invitation of its despotic Communist regime.

She made speeches praising the regime and was a subject of many political jokes. BDS or not, for me she is just a regular political opportunist.