3 resign from Birmingham Civil Rights Institute board after criticism for rescinding award to Angela Davis
From The Trussville Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM — Three board members from the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute have resigned following criticism of the decision to rescind the Fred Shuttlesworth Award to Dr. Angela Davis. The decision to withdraw the award came after community Jewish groups opposed recognizing Davis in light of her antisemitic views.
Board Chairman Mike Oatridge, First Vice Chairman Walter Body and Secretary Janice Kelsey submitted their resignations on Tuesday.
In a joint statement, the three said they were stepping down to “enable the City of Birmingham to create a board structure that will best enable the BCRI to continue its critical mission in the future.”
The decision to withdraw the award was followed with swift criticism of the BCRI board from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and the Birmingham City Council. Also joining in the criticism were activist Frank Matthews and Carlos Chaverst Jr., as well as many in the Birmingham Muslim community and others.
“It is absolutely embarrassing to withdraw an award and it’s disingenuous that we would be selective in our measure of one’s humanity without considering the totality of their lives,” Councilman Steven Hoyt said. “We are products of our experiences, so where is the grace in this matter? She didn’t nominate herself. The nominating committee deemed her worthy and now she’s not. All money isn’t good money, especially if it’s contingent on a partial view akin to ‘don’t shout until I tell you to shout.’”
Davis, who grew up in Birmingham, is a nationally recognized human rights advocate. But her actions and statements have also made her a controversial figure.
An alternate event is planned for Davis in Birmingham in February, though no details have yet been released.
“The New York Times pointed to a December piece from Southern Jewish Life editor Larry Brook that was published around the same time as BCRI says they started hearing concerns from several people,” according to Jewish Journal. “Brook’s piece notes that Davis is a staunch supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and that she has referred to Israel as an ‘apartheid’ state.
“Brook also points out that Davis has lavished praise on Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted of a 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing that killed two college students, and has called for the release of Marwan Barghouti, the Al-Alqsa Martyrs terrorist who has called for ‘a Third Intifada.’”
Davis, however, said it was her support of Palestine that led to the award being withdrawn.
“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,” Davis wrote in a statement released Tuesday. “This seemed particularly unfortunate, given that my own freedom was secured – and indeed my life was saved – by a vast international movement.”