Photo courtesy of Black-Palestinian Solidarity
The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute canceled its prestigious human rights award for Angela Davis following outcry from "concerned individuals and organizations." Davis, the Black revolutionary feminist icon, grew up in Birmingham under the Jim Crow apartheid regime.
"Upon closer examination of Ms. Davis’ statements and public record, we concluded that she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based," the institute wrote in a statement on Sunday.
While the institute has not provided specifics on the concerns or their award criteria, it is clear that Davis's support for Palestine is one of the main reasons for the reversal.
A statement from Birmingham's mayor revealed that these concerned individuals were from the "local Jewish community and some of its allies."
The only public objections to Davis's award is a December 2018 article from Southern Jewish Life:
2015 protest in São Paulo against the police killing of Afro-Brazilian youth.
We are writing this statement to extend our solidarity to our comrades in Brazil, who are facing a rising fascist threat in their country. We commit ourselves to building a resistance to right-wing authoritarianism in Brazil, the US, and around the world.
Far-right figure Jair Bolsonaro’s win in Brazil’s most recent presidential election is cause for alarm for anyone concerned with the fight against oppression. Bolsonaro is a misogynist who has spoken casually about raping women. He supports the use of torture and speaks with nostalgia about Brazil’s twenty-one year dictatorship.
Bolsonaro’s election is the latest development in a series of disturbing events in Brazil. In 2016, the right wing impeached leftist president Dilma Roussef—the first female president of Brazil—ending her presidency not with a democratic election, but with a quiet coup. In that same year, left-wing former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was jailed and he has remained in prison ever since. A Brazilian electoral court then prevented Lula from running in the most recent Presidential election while he appealed his case. And earlier this year, Black, queer, socialist militant and politician Marielle Franco was assassinated in Rio de Janeiro while she was on way home from delivering a speech.
As Black activists who build solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, our outlook is always one that connects freedom struggles around the world with our struggles within the borders of the US state. As internationalists, we know that the fates of oppressed groups of people around the world are bound up with each other; we rise or fall together.
We also know that our enemies support each other and work together to undermine democracy and people’s liberation movements. The United States for instance, has long been a friend of dictatorships and reactionary violence around the world, and with Trump as president, we know that Bolsonaro has a friend in the White House. The U.S. has a history of meddling in the politics countries around the world, specifically, funding right-wing opposition movements and inciting coups in Latin America.
In 2013, WikiLeaks revealed that the NSA was spying on world leaders, including former President Roussef and members of her administration. Wikileaks also revealed that Rouseff’s successor, Michele Temer was an informant for US intelligence services. With the U.S. government’s long history of supporting right-wing coups and interfering in the politics of countries around the world, its spying capabilities and its alignment with Brazil’s corporate right-wing, it has undermined and continues to undermine democracy in Brazil. It must be stopped.
We are concerned for Indigenous peoples, as Bolsonaro calls for the seizure of more Native land to feed the desires of Brazilian and international corporations and banks. We are concerned for LGBTQ people and women, whom Bolsonaro speaks about with hateful contempt. We are concerned for migrants, who are particularly vulnerable to Bolsonaro’s nationalism. We are concerned for the poor and working class of Brazil, who will suffer because of Bolsonaro’s policies.
On the left, Marielle Franco, the Black, queer, socialist politician who was assassinated earlier this year. On the right, Brazilians marching for justice against her killers.
We are also concerned for Afro-Brazilians, who already face alarming levels of state violence and who Bolsonaro explicitly denigrates. We want to call attention to this population—and what it is facing--in particular. More enslaved Africans were sent to Brazil than any other country during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and Brazil today has the largest population of African descent outside of the continent. The result is that the largest Black populations in the Americas each live and struggle under right wing rule. It is essential for us to learn more about the conditions of our family in Brazil and to resist the U.S.’ efforts to further destabilize the country.
With friends like these, our enemies should be clear.
We call on others where we are and around the world to join us in building solidarity with our comrades in Brazil. We will do what we can to contribute to that solidarity. From the streets of US cities to Brazil, to Palestine, we fight with each other and for each other.
“Regarding the question of Palestine, beyond words we must ask the question, what does justice require? To truly engage in acts of solidarity, we must make our words flesh. Our solidarity must be more than a noun. Our solidarity must become a verb.”
Black for Palestine expresses our full support for journalist and professor Marc Lamont Hill and condemns CNN's decision to fire him for speaking in support of Palestinian human rights.
Marc was the sole representative of civil society invited to speak at the United Nations’ International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People on November 28. By the following day, Zionist groups including the Anti Defamation League alleged that Marc was an anti-Semite and called on CNN to drop Marc as a political commentator. The corporate news outlet fired him a few hours later.
Marc has been an outspoken advocate for human rights for all people. His most notable work has been his advocacy for Palestinian rights and for Black people in the U.S. settler state. He was one of the only voices on CNN, Black or otherwise, with a commitment to speaking truth to power.