The Middle East Children’s Alliance joins progressive organizations and individuals in Birmingham and throughout the country in condemning the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s cowardly retreat from awarding the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to Angela Davis.
“The rescinding of this invitation and the cancellation of the event where I was scheduled to speak was not primarily an attack against me but rather against the very spirit of the indivisibility of justice,” Davis says. For almost 50 years, Angela Davis has been among the country’s most influential and significant figures just because she has acted time and time again in the spirit of the indivisibility of justice. From her heroic support for the Black liberation struggle in the 1960s, to her groundbreaking analysis of intersectionality in Women, Race and Class, to her intellectual and organizing leadership of the prison abolition movement, Davis has relentlessly pushed all of us forward.
Nowhere is this clearer than in her solidarity with Palestine. As Davis explained in a 2017 interview by Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin, “In my own political history, Palestine has always occupied a pivotal place, precisely because of the similarities between Israel and the United States—their foundational settler colonialism and their ethnic cleansing processes with respect to indigenous people, their systems of segregation, their use of legal systems to enact systematic repression, and so forth.” Her participation in a 2011 delegation of Indigenous and women of color feminist scholar activists to the West Bank and East Jerusalem cemented her support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Zionist pressure to silence this solidarity is what led Civil Rights Institute to retract the award.
Angela Davis has consistently stood for justice and international solidarity, no matter the cost. This is clearly the basis on which she deserved the Fred Shuttlesworth award. We’re glad that the true progressive community in Birmingham is prepared to celebrate Angela’s life’s work. As Fred Shuttlesworth said, “We will no longer stand back while the future beckons us on!”