Global human rights activist, scholar, author and Birmingham native Dr. Angela Y. Davis will receive the Fred Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award, the highest award given by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), on June 19.
The Shuttlesworth Award honors outstanding individuals for their significant contributions to civil and human rights.
The virtual event will feature a conversation between and moderator Professor D. Wendy Greene, of Drexel University.
Early last year, the BCRI created an international outcry saying it was rescinding the award from Davis. The institute then re-invited Davis, but the embarrassment lingered. Three BCRI board members including the chairman resigned.
Through her activism and scholarship over many decades, Davis has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities united in the struggle for economic, racial and gender justice.
Davis’ teaching career has taken her to San Francisco State University, Mills College and UC Berkeley. She also has taught at UCLA, Vassar, Syracuse University the Claremont Colleges, and Stanford University.
Most recently she spent 15 years at the University of California Santa Cruz where she is now Distinguished Professor Emerita of History of Consciousness – an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program – and of Feminist Studies. Professor Davis’ papers were acquired by Harvard University’s Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library earlier this year.
Davis, author of 10 books, has lectured throughout the United States and in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and South America. In recent years a persistent theme of her work has been the range of social problems associated with incarceration and the generalized criminalization of communities most affected by poverty and racial discrimination. She draws upon her own experiences in the early 1970s as a person who spent 18 months in jail and on trial, after being placed on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted List.”
She’s also conducted extensive research on numerous issues related to race, gender and imprisonment. Her recent books include Abolition Democracy and Are Prisons Obsolete? about the abolition of the prison industrial complex, a new edition of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, and a collection of essays titled “The Meaning of Freedom.” Her most recent book of essays, called Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement, was published in February 2016.
Established by the BCRI Board of Directors in 2002, the Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award serves as a tribute to the leadership and courage of Shuttlesworth throughout the course of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.