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In Solidarity with Angela Davis – 3 – Life Long Trade Union Organizer Mike Wilzoch Weighs In…

January 10, 2019

Fania and Angela Davis…sisters in struggle and in life

Mike Wilzoch has been involved in pretty much every major labor, human rights struggle in Colorado over the past forty years. He started his social justice activity very young and never looked back. I only know bits and pieces of his story – working with the United Farm Workers of America in the 1970s, organizing for different unions over the years. He started his union work with the Service Employees International Union as a Janitors For Justice organizer, later was the president of SEIU Local 105 till 2000. In San Diego from 2000-2009 he was SEIU’s Justice for Janitors Director while doing immigrant rights work, and then an organizer for SEIU’s San Diego Health Care Unit.” Mike sent his statement to the Birmingham Jewish Federation protesting their interfering with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s giving a human rights award to Angela Davis. The email he sent, like the one Larry Grimm tried to send, was rejected. He has granted me permission to publish it in full just below.  


Good Day,

During the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, many members of the Jewish community across the country were reliable allies in the campaigns for equality and justice for African-Americans. This makes your role behind the scenes to withdraw the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute’s award for Angela Davis all the more tragic and despicable. Ms. Davis is a daughter of Birmingham, who is celebrated across the world for her powerful advocacy for the oppressed. She knew Fred Shuttlesworth, in whose name the award was to be presented, has ties to the BCRI going back to its founding, and a history of working with Jewish groups to promote fairness and resolve conflict.

It is a reflection of your lack of integrity that rather than publicly oppose the BCRI’s decision, and state your reasons openly, you took action in secret to disrespect her and, more importantly, what she has stood for all of her life. Advocacy against Israel’s medieval treatment of the Palestinians, and taking any action to advance their cause is deemed to be a threat to be silenced by organizations like yours. You react reflexively toward any criticism of Israel, no matter how much they dishonor a cornerstone of the Hebrew faith—the relentless pursuit of justice. In fact, many Jewish organizations and members of the faith are in leadership roles opposing the worst of the Israeli government’s policies, practices, and actions—and organizing relentlessly to promote peace and a Palestinian homeland.

As you are aware, your unethical actions have caused a tsunami of reaction to the BCRI’s decision to fail their organization’s mission, and cave to your backdoor pressure: unvarnished condemnation by the Mayor and City Council; a movement among Birmingham’s citizenry to condemn the decision, begin organizing an alternative event to honor Ms. Davis; and a call for a change in the organization’s leadership—which has been successful as the top 3 Officers have resigned.

Be advised that there are millions of us here, and around the world, who have been moved to action opposing both the illegal and inhumane treatment of the Palestinians by Israel and our own government. We take very seriously the accelerating attempts to restrict our 1st Amendment rights to speech and actions to only those you approve of. We will not accept our rights being violated, especially by whisper campaigns and character assassination. Part of our mission is to expose this unethical, dangerous, and un-American conduct. Consider yourself dragged into the sunlight, and your efforts otherwise being quite appropriately catastrophic for your credibility, position and practice.

Mike Wilzoch


Rob Prince’s Statement

Larry Grimm’s Statement

Rob Prince Further Reflections

Dr. Haider Khan’s Statement


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