Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Update

BIRMINGHAM, AL (January 25, 2019) – The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute would like to share the following information concerning recent developments in the controversy surrounding the BCRI’s 2018 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award. This update follows a BCRI Board of Directors January 14 public apology for its missteps in conferring, then rescinding, its nomination of Dr. Angela Y. Davis in early January (a chronology is listed here).

Immediately after that public apology, in keeping with its commitment to learning from its mistakes and in order to stay true to the BCRI’s founding mission, the Board voted to reaffirm Dr. Davis as the recipient. Dr. Davis was immediately thereafter personally invited to reaccept the award. The BCRI
respects her privacy and timing in whatever her response may ultimately be.

At the BCRI’s founding, the basic purposes of the Institute were to “focus on what happened in the past, to portray it realistically and interestingly, and to understand it in relationship to the present and future development of human relations in Birmingham, the United States, and perhaps the world.”

“Dr. Angela Davis, a daughter of Birmingham, is highly regarded throughout the world as a human rights activist,” said BCRI President and CEO Andrea L. Taylor. “In fact, the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study acquired her personal archives in 2018, recognizing her significance in the movement for human rights, her involvement in raising issues of feminism, as well as her leadership in the campaign against mass incarceration. Her credentials in championing human rights are noteworthy,” she said.

Reverend Thomas L. Wilder, interim BCRI Board Chair, said “at the end of the day, we stand for open
and honest dialogue on issues. It is only through our ability to talk openly and honestly with one another that we can achieve true understanding and appreciation for one another’s perspectives. We look forward to continuing the Institute’s legacy as we foster dialogue and open communications, improve our Board governance and policies, and stay focused on our Vision 2020 strategic plan.”
Wilder said that BCRI’s Vision 2020 strategic plan is based on four guiding goals:

1. To accelerate the reach of the Institute by doubling the number of visitors by 2020, by building
greater awareness, and by attracting significantly larger audiences, year over year;

2. To promote the success of the newly designated Civil Rights National Monument;

3. To facilitate superb programming that optimizes the Institute’s own educational, curatorial and
archival assets; and,

4. To build a healthy, adaptive and sustainable institution that is both financially self-sufficient and
nationally significant.

“We ask everyone to partner with us to rebuild trust in the Institute and its important work,” Wilder said.