Angela Davis Won an Award. It Was Revoked. Now It’s Been Reinstated.

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A civil rights group in Birmingham, Ala., said on Friday that it had reinstated Angela Davis, the activist and scholar, as the recipient of its annual human rights award, reversing a controversial decision to revoke the honor weeks ago.

The group, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, first announced last fall that Professor Davis would receive the award, but its board walked the decision back on Jan. 4 amid criticism over her support for a boycott of Israel. That move prompted a backlash, with many describing it as an insult.

In a since-deleted statement, the group had said that Professor Davis, who retired from the University of California, Santa Cruz, in 2008, “does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.” But, on Friday, Andrea L. Taylor, the institute’s president and chief executive, reaffirmed Professor Davis’s qualifications.

“Dr. Angela Davis, a daughter of Birmingham, is highly regarded throughout the world as a human-rights activist,” she said in the statement, noting Professor Davis’s activism around feminism and mass incarceration. “Her credentials in championing human rights are noteworthy.”

The institute said that it had reached out to Professor Davis after issuing a public apology on Jan. 14 and that it “respects her privacy and timing in whatever her response may ultimately be.” Professor Davis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While the institute did not explain its reasoning for the revocation, Professor Davis said in a statement at the time that she had learned that it was because of her support of the Palestinian cause. In a separate statement, Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham said the decision came after “protests from some members of the community, Jewish and otherwise.”

Weeks earlier, Larry Brook, the editor of the magazine Southern Jewish Life, published a piece about the honor, noting Professor Davis’s past support of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as B.D.S.

The campaign seeks to apply economic pressure to Israel in order to end what its supporters say amounts to modern-day apartheid. Its goals include ending Israeli occupation of the West Bank, ensuring equal treatment of Palestinians under the law and allowing Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.

Many Israelis and their allies say the movement is anti-Semitic and view it as an existential threat. Israel has even responded with a blacklist of its own.

In her statement about the revocation, Professor Davis defended her support of the Palestinians, saying it was directly linked to her opposition to anti-Semitism.

“Through my experiences at Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City and at Brandeis University in the late ’50s and early ’60s, and my subsequent time in graduate school in Frankfurt, Germany, I learned to be as passionate about opposition to anti-Semitism as to racism,” she said. “It was during this period that I was also introduced to the Palestinian cause.”

Professor Davis first gained worldwide renown about half a century ago because of her activism on behalf of three black inmates, known as the Soledad Brothers, who were accused of killing a white prison guard in California.

In 1970, guns Professor Davis had purchased were used in an attack on a courthouse aimed at freeing the men, with four people killed in an ensuing shootout, including a judge and the gunman himself.

Professor Davis was not present during the attack, and witnesses said the guns had been purchased for defense, but she nonetheless spent 16 months in jail before being acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury. One of the inmates was killed in prison, and the other two were later cleared of their charges by an all‐white jury.

Since that time, Professor Davis has been recognized for her scholarship and activism around feminism and against mass incarceration. Last year, the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study acquired her personal archive, comprising more than 150 boxes of papers, photographs, pamphlets and other material covering her entire life.

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