January 8, 2019
By Devon Nola
Black civil-rights icon, Angela Davis, was selected by Birmingham Civil Rights Institute as the recipient of the prestigious Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award at its annual gala in February 2019. BCRI’s CEO, Andrea Taylor, said of Davis that she is “one of the most globally recognized champions of human rights, giving voice to those who are powerless to speak,”. Dr. Davis is an American political activist, an academic and author.
However, it seems not everyone was happy with BCRI’s choice. Due to pressure from some of the local Jewish community, BCRI swiftly buckled and rescinded the award. The Institute opted to cancel the annual event and refund tickets. This decision has created a national outrage and harsh criticism directed towards BCRI. That Birmingham Civil Rights Institute doesn’t get to decide who has best served its own community as well as represent universal human rights is a travesty. To go as far as to say, “on closer inspection” they conclude this legendary civil rights activist “doesn’t meet the criteria’ is shameful.
To avoid repeating such embarrassing events such as this, maybe BCRI should get its humanist list from the ADL. Maybe all organizations should check with their local synagogue to obtain a list of permissible saxophonists who can play with The Blockheads on Christmas, which Black men and women can be honored for their work on civil and human rights, who can write lyrics for Pink Floyd and the list goes on. This seems the best way to relieve future tensions with one community determined to dictate to all others who they are permitted to celebrate.