Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter, a global political movement. Founded in 2013 by organizers Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the #Black Lives Matter movement (the hash tag was dropped after 2014) was inspired by the acquittals of several police officers involved in shootings of unarmed African-Americans, culminating in the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. Beginning primarily as an online platform and organizing tool, the movement became involved in physical protest following the murder of Mike Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. That Labor Day, Cullors and Darnell Moore organized the Black Lives Matter Ride, bringing 600 people to the region. Following the protests in Ferguson, 18 local branches were opened across the country, and the movement’s leadership began work on “an adaptive and decentralized” set of guiding principles under the name of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, to encourage new Black leaders and establish a network for Black empowerment. The release of the video of the killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis—showing a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd called out “I can’t breathe”—underscored the growing body of evidence of the differential treatment of Blacks in the hands of law enforcement and the criminal justice system, galvanizing a large portion of the population. The movement reached its greatest physical impact on June 6, 2020, when half a million protesters gathered in 550 location across the U.S. Unlike past racial protests, Black and people of color protesters were joined by a large contingent of white marchers, a testimony to the organization’s increased legitimacy in American culture. The movement has sought to expand its reach beyond what it calls “heterosexual, cisgender men” to include women, queer, trans, and other marginalized people under its umbrella. The organization has branches in the US, UK, and Canada.

See K-Y Taylor, From #Blacklivesmatter to Black Liberation (2016); C. J. Lebron, The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea (2018), B. Ramsey, Making All Black Lives Matter: Reimagining Freedom in the Twenty-First Century (2018), P. Kahn-Cullors with A. Bandele, When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir (2020).

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