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Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Rescinds Angela Davis Honor

Angela Davis

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute has rescinded its decision to honor political activist and scholar Angela Davis following unspecified complaints.

Davis is a Birmingham native who has spent decades fighting for civil rights. She was an active member of the Black Panther Party, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Communist Party USA. She's also an outspoken supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement targeting Israel's treatment of Palestinians.

In October, BCRI President and CEO Andrea Taylor said the Institute was "thrilled to bestow this honor" on Davis, who Taylor described as "one of the most globally recognized champions of human rights, giving voice to those who are powerless to speak."

But the institute announced Saturday that in late December, "supporters and other concerned individuals and organizations... began to make requests that we reconsider our decision."

"Upon closer examination of Davis' statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria" for the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award.

The statement didn't indicate what criteria it found Davis didn't meet, nor did it identify the origin of the complaints. Many people responded with outrage Monday on social media regarding the institute's decision.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said the protests came from the "local Jewish community and some of its allies" in a statement expressing his "dismay" at the decision. He called it a reactive and divisive decision and offered to facilitate a community dialogue in response.

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