Academic and civil rights activist, Angela Davis was nominated for the Fred Shuttlesworth Award in early January, by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), but soon after, the award was rescinded due to Professor Davis’ outspoken support of Palestinian equal rights.
The decision was reversed on January 25th, when the board issued a statement stating it has â€śvoted to reaffirm Dr. Davis as the recipient (of the Fred Shuttlesworth Award),”, inviting Dr. Davis to come to Birmingham to receive the award. It is not yet known whether Dr. Davis will accept the invitation.
The reversal came after â€śa public outcry in support of Davis, including a letter signed by more than 300 scholars, human rights activists, and veterans of the civil rights movementâ€ť The letter stated, in part, â€śWe may not all agree on the best way forward in the Middle East but we do share Dr. Davisâ€™ view that the Israeli Occupation is wrong, and that the repressive, discriminatory and often violent policies of the Israeli government vis-Ă -vis the Palestinian population are wrong and indefensibleâ€¦â€ť
The letter also stated â€śwe will not be bullied into silence [on the issue of Palestine]. Individuals and institutions that choose to punish, censor, blacklist and dishonor anyone who dares to take a critical stand on this issue are acting in the disgraceful tradition of McCarthyismâ€ť.
Michelle Anderson, New York Times columnist, and signatory to the letter, wrote that the “attack [on Dr. Davis] backfired. Within 48 hours, academics and activists had mobilized in response”. Alexander went on to say, “We must must condemn Israel’s actions : unrelenting violations of international law, continued occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, home demolitions and land confiscations.”