The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has decided not to honor civil rights icon Angela Davis with its human rights awards after complaints poured in asking the organization to reconsider its decision.
Davis’ was a crowning symbol of black, bold womanhood in the 1960s and 70s, and a legendary activist, author and scholar.
She was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Communist Party USA.
The award was set to be bestowed upon the legendary activist during the Annual Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award Gala on Feb. 16 in Alabama, but was rescinded by the board after they received complaints based on Davis’ history, AI reports.
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.
In September of 2018, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s (BCRI) Board of Directors selected Angela Davis to receive the prestigious Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual gala in February 2019. 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.
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. Therefore, on January 4, BCRI’s Board voted to rescind its invitation to Ms. Davis to honor her with the Shuttlesworth Award. While we recognize Ms. Davis’ stature as a scholar and prominent figure in civil rights history, we believe this decision is consistent with the ideals of the award’s namesake, Rev. Shuttlesworth.
We regret that this change is necessary, and apologize to our supporters, the community and Ms. Davis for the confusion we have caused. We will move forward with a keen focus on our mission: to enlighten each generation about civil and human rights by exploring our common past and working together in the present to build a better future.
The associated gala event, scheduled for February 16th at Haven has been cancelled. Ticket purchasers will received a full refund.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the complaints were primarily from the “local Jewish community and some of its allies.” Davis has criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
Davis was set to receive an award that was named for Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and who worked closely with the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement.
A statue of Fred Shuttlesworth sits outside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute.