Ladies and Gentlemen:
I write to you admittedly angry over your decision to revoke the fully justified and, perhaps, belated Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award to Dr. Angela Davis, a child of the Dynamite Hill neighborhood.
As a life-long Minister of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), I served congregations in Dothan and Montgomery for over 20 years. It was my honor to know leaders of the civil rights struggle like E. D. Nixon, Ms. Johnnie Carr, Mrs. Virginia Durr and many others. One of my beloved parishioners was Judge Richard Rives, who presided over the Montgomery Bus Boycott decision.
As an advisor, currently, to the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with whom I have discussed this matter, I have spent a great deal of time emerged not only in civil and human rights here in the U.S. but also in places around the world where racist injustice prevails over oppressed indigenous populations. One of the most egregious examples is in the plight of the Palestinian people, who suffer daily under the draconian policies of the Israeli government. The greatest irony in this tragedy is that Israeli authorities march steadily toward a Zionist vision of total control and ultimate occupation of the whole “Land of Israel.”
We all must be appropriately sensitive to the impact of the Holocaust on our Jewish colleagues., but we dare not give a “blank check” to Zionist racism of the type that has been brought to bear on your board. It amounts to little more than the “playing of the race card.” The pressure put on your board because of Angel Davis’ advocacy for the cause of Palestinian freedom, including her support for economic pressure through boycotts, divestment and sanctions, can easily be traced to this kind of extreme Zionist rhetoric.
To suggest that this trumps her eligibility for this distinguished award is disingenuous and wrong. While “this horse is out of the barn” as far as your board’s influence in this instance, some form of apology should be offered to Dr. Davis, in the hope that the BCRI’s credibility can be salvaged. It is appropriate, but unfortunate, that the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation is taking the “mantle” from BCRI and offering appropriate recognition to Dr. Davis for her contributions to the civil rights struggle.
In the hope for a more just future for us all,