American academic Angela Davis says she is â€śstunnedâ€ť at the decision of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama toÂ revoke a human rights awardÂ it was planning to give her at a gala next month.
In aÂ statementÂ on Facebook, the iconic Black intellectual and activist said that the BCRI â€śrefused my requests to reveal the substantive reasons for this action,â€ť but that she â€ślater learned that my long-term support of justice for Palestine was at issue.â€ť
Reaffirming her â€śsupport [for] Palestinian political prisonersâ€ť and â€śopposition to policies and practices of the state of Israel,â€ť Davis added that the rescinding of the award and invitation to speak was â€śnot primarily an attack against me but rather against the very spirit of the indivisibility of justice.â€ť
Davis said that the trip to Birmingham to receive the BCRI award was to be the â€śhighlight of my year,â€ť but despite its cancellation she would still travel there next month â€śfor an alternative event organized by those who believe that the movement for civil rights in this moment must include a robust discussion of all of the injustices that surround us.â€ť
The BCRIâ€™s decision is generating a growing backlash.
Davis, who sufferedÂ incarceration and political persecutionÂ for her support for Black liberation, grew up in Birminghamâ€™s Dynamite Hill, a neighborhood thatÂ got its nameÂ from the frequency of bombings and violent attacks targeting its residents by white supremacists.
City council member Steven Hoyt, who proposed the council resolution, told media that the instituteâ€™s move was â€śabsolutely embarrassing.â€ť
â€śEverybody respects her but us. In academic communities as well as society and various groups,â€ť Hoyt added. â€śIâ€™m embarrassed. Iâ€™m embarrassed to even serve in a city that would do that.â€ť
On Monday, Black activistsÂ calledÂ for leadership changes and protests at the BCRI, an institution ostensibly established to honor and advance the cause of civil rights.
Earlier, Birmingham Mayor Randall WoodfinÂ expressedÂ his â€śdismayâ€ť at the decision to cancel the award gala, which he said came â€śafter protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies.â€ť
Local media revealed that pressure had come from, among others, the Birmingham Jewish Federation, a staunchly pro-Israel communal group.
Davis is the second high-profile Black intellectual to be targeted by pro-Israel lobby pressure in recent weeks.
In November,Â Marc Lamont HillÂ was dismissed from his role as a CNN political commentator following anÂ Israel lobby campaign of lies and smearsÂ misrepresenting a speech he made at the United Nations in support of Palestinian rights and BDS â€“ the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement to pressure Israel to respect international law and human rights.
Temple University alsoÂ faced pressureÂ from the Zionist Organization of America to dismiss Hill as a professor â€“ a step it has not taken amid warnings that this would violate Hillâ€™s First Amendment rights.
Last June, the University of ViennaÂ banned a public lectureÂ by Dhoruba Bin-Wahad after a smear campaign against the veteran Black American activist, author and former political prisoner, and against the Palestine solidarity groups co-sponsoring the event.
The civil rights group Palestine LegalÂ calledÂ the BCRIâ€™s decision to rescind the honor to Angela Davis â€śthe latest incident in aÂ well-documentedÂ nationwide campaign to censor andÂ punishÂ critics of Israel.
â€śTheÂ pattern of censorshipÂ targeting Israelâ€™s critics is already well documented,â€ť Palestine Legal added.
â€śSo areÂ attemptsÂ by Israeli government officials to divide Black leaders and suppress those who draw connections between freedom struggles of Black Americans and Palestinians.â€ť
* This article was reposted from the Electronic Intifada