Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Revokes Honor for Professor Angela Davis

In September of 2018, the ‪Birmingham Civil Rights Institute‬’s board of directors selected Angela Davis to receive the prestigious Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual gala in February 2019. Professor Davis, who taught at the University of California, Santa Cruz until 2008, has been a political activist for most of her life, advocating for the rights of African Americans, women, and prison inmates. The decision to present Dr. Davis with the award has now been rescinded and the event in Birmingham, scheduled for next month has now been cancelled.

In a statement, the Birmingham Civil Rights institute said that “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.”

In a statement posted on social media after the announcement by the institute, Dr. Davis said she was “stunned” by the decision to revoke the honor. She claimed that she had learned that the decision was made due to her long-term support of justice for Palestine. Dr. Davis wrote that the “rescinding of this invitation was thus not primarily an attack against me, but rather against the very spirit of the indivisibility of justice.”

Professor Davis grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, during the Jim Crow era. She knew Rev. Shuttlesworth and went to school with his daughter. Dr. Davis is a magna cum laude graduate of Brandeis University. She later earned a master’s degree at the University of California, San Diego and a Ph.D. at Humboldt University in Germany.

Dr. Davis taught at the University of California, Los Angeles. Then California Governor Ronald Reagan tried to have her fired because she was a member of the Communist Party. In 1970, Davis was indicted for murder and placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List, because guns she had purchased were used in an attempt to free the Soledad Brothers from a courtroom in Marin County, California. Four people were killed. Dr. Davis was acquitted by an all-White jury in 1972.

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