Did The BCRI Betray The Black Community? – Your Black World

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By Frank Woodson

The rejection of Angela Davis as an award recipient/honoree by the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute is a symptom of a larger problem. The Birmingham Civil Rights Museum has been highjacked from its original purpose… plain and simple!

Hundreds of people donated artifacts and gave of their time from around the nation and perhaps the world, to document the Civil Rights struggle of Blacks in America so that it would not be forgotten by the generations to come.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN YOU MAY ASK… WITH INTENTIONALITY?

Why Did We Build the Civil Rights Museum?

If anyone would know why the BCRI is important it is the Jewish Community, The Irish American Community, The Native American Community, The Italian American Community… but especially the Jewish Community.

Listen to these words as to the importance of the U.S. National Holocaust Museum:

“Ultimately, I want students to walk away from this lesson with three things in mind.

Remembrance: The Holocaust is not just about the six million. It is also about the loss of future generations. What future doctors, scientists, artists, writers, philosophers were never allowed to develop? As the Jews were killed, their progeny, our future leaders and our human potential were also lost.

Relevance: Students must understand that the lessons of the Holocaust are present in our daily lives and directly connected to world events. The names and places may change, but the lessons are still applicable.

Responsibility: Students need to recognize their own responsibility in making sure that genocide does not happen again. We must all take action and respond whenever we see hatred, prejudice, and antisemitism.” (WWW.USHMM.ORG)

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All of these groups want to make sure that this nation and its future generations “Never Forget” the atrocities suffered by their people group and the lessons that future generations can learn from the cautionary tale.

WHERE DID BIRMINGHAM GO WRONG? How was the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum stolen away from the Civil Rights Struggle?

Step 1) Birmingham began the transition of the Civil Right Museum to a Civil Rights Institute

While this seems great… unknowing and well-meaning individuals in BCRI leadership from the Black community ushered in an area that systematically removed the pain of African American struggle for civil rights and equity… and replaced it with an exercise in the academic pursuit and refocusing to Human Rights.

Perhaps they were unaware of the conversations from the majority community regarding the discomfort they experienced by being reminded of Birmingham’s “Racial Past”. There were a number that they said to me, “Let’s build a facility next to it to talk about Birmingham’s progress… nobody wants to feel guilty anymore about the past.”

The Museum caused discomfort… and it should. It was not meant to be a wedding photo album to commemorate wonderful memories, but a painful reminder of the past and the reason for the current scars… the remaining vestiges of racism. So, the “white-washing of the museum is born.

Step 2) The mission changed from a focus on commemorating the struggle that African Americans had in obtaining Civil Rights in Birmingham and America, to a focus on Human Rights

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This was a little subtler… separate the Blacks in Bible Belt town of Birmingham Alabama by saying that the mission was not about the Black struggle for Civil Rights, but was now about Human Rights and more specifically the struggle of gay, lesbian and alternative families. Our Blacks at the helm were so posh about it… they were proud… they were current… they were puppets. To disagree was to be a homophobe!

The message was clear to Birmingham Blacks… the Civil Rights Museum was about using the lessons learned from the Civil Rights Movement to fight for the right of Gay Marriage in Alabama. So, for the first time in our community, Public Dollars received from the City and Foundations were used to become a part of the lobby for Gay Marriage. Yet the more sinister plot was to separate the Civil Rights Museum from the historical Civil Rights Movement of Birmingham… the Black Struggle.

That would never happened with the Holocaust Museum…
The Italian American Museum…
The Irish American Museum…
The Native American Museum…
The Major Civil Rights museums throughout the United States

Which ushers in the third phase…

Step 3) The ushering in of the liberal White leadership, corporate influenced Black leadership and foundation influenced Black leadership.

The transformation is complete.

BIRMINGHAM NOW HAS THE DISTINCTION OF BEING PERHAPS THE ONLY MAJOR MUSEUM CREATED TO COMMEMORATE THE STRUGGLES OF A PEOPLE THAT IS NOT LED BY REPRESENTATIVES FROM THAT PEOPLE GROUP.

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The only board with a non-impacted Chairman and the board is overwhelmingly non-Black. As such, we should not be surprised by the reversal of the invitation to Angela Davis. Why? Because many outside of the Black community are not comfortable with her… and board represents their sentiments directly or indirectly. They are not bad or evil people. They are not evil. They simply do not carry the agenda and priorities of the Black community.

The original mission is changed. Those embarrassed by Birmingham’s past are comforted. The legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and struggle for Black Equality is redirected… and with it the whole notion of Black Equity and the pursuit of a more Equitable society for the future generations of Black children. Non-Economic liberalism would now continue to profit off of its proximity to the Black community without having to economically empower the community.

As a community we were here before… the formation of the 1965 Civil Rights Commission. Malcom’s words seem so relevant:

“It’s just like when you’ve got some coffee that’s too black, which means it’s too strong. What do you do? You integrate it with cream, you make it weak. But if you pour too much cream in it, you won’t even know you ever had coffee. It used to be hot, it becomes cool. It used to be strong, it becomes weak. It used to wake you up, now it puts you to sleep.”

― Malcolm X

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