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Mayor increases pressure on board members of Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

From The Trussville Tribune staff reports

BIRMINGHAM — Even after three board members of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute resigned following criticism for rescinding the Fred Shuttlesworth Award to activist Angela Davis, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin is continuing to apply pressure on the remaining board members.

“The crisis of leadership at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute represents a clash of values, wherein the institution responsible for stewarding powerful, poignant and respectful dialogue, has demonstrated that they do not value dialogue with residents of Birmingham and the public at large,” Woodfin said in a statement posted Friday.

The BCRI board rescinded the award and canceled a scheduled banquet after concerns were raised by many in the Birmingham Jewish community who consider many of Davis’ views to be antisemitic.

Following criticism from Woodfin, the Birmingham City Council and others, Board Chairman and Honda Vice President Mike Oatridge, First Vice Chairman and Coca Cola executive Walter Body, and Secretary Janice Kelsey submitted their resignations on Tuesday.

Woodfin pointed out that city of Birmingham is the largest donor to the BCRI and accused board members of poor stewardship.

Woodfin also listed demands he has made of board members:

  • Minutes: A release to the public of all minutes of the BCRI Board of Directors from September 2018 – Saturday, Jan. 5.
  • Honoree: A release, to my office, of the official, written communication shared, or yet to be shared, with Dr. Davis regarding the initial invitation to Birmingham, as well as communications rescinding the invitation.
  • Apology: Issue an apology statement to the community-at-large for the poor handling of the process.
  • Criteria: A release of the award selection criteria to help the community understand the full range of your selection rationale.
  • Facilitation: Invite representatives from stakeholder organizations to meet directly with the board of directors this week.
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