Three black women activists – Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza – came together to create #BlackLivesMatter in response to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of Trayvon Martin. What started as a hashtag on Twitter is now on the streets as the slogan of peaceful assembly and protests for the rights of Black Americans.
“It was really my younger brother who [is in his late teens] who inspired me to get involved in this kind of work,” said Tometi. “I’ve learned a lot from him and his life, and when Trayvon Martin was murdered and George Zimmerman was acquitted, he was the first person who came to my mind.”
The Black Lives Matter movement places much value on the practice of intersectionality, which is being inclusive of all aspects of Black life, including being a Black woman, trans, queer, and disabled. “Black women hold it down all the time and we have been the architects of the movement — not just this current one, but previous ones — since the beginning. So we decided very early on that we weren’t going to allow our stories and the stories of black women to be erased,” said Cullors.
As of August 3, the police have killed 156 Black Americans in 2016, mostly by gunshot. Black Lives Matter uses social media to both educate and as a way to call for action. The movement, which has 38 official chapters across the United States, has organized hundreds of protests and demonstrations – all of which put Black women at the forefront.
Women and Black Lives Matter: An Interview with Marcia Chatelain, Dissent Magazine, Summer 2015
#BlackLivesMatter: the birth of a new civil rights movement, The Guardian, July 19 2015
A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement, Alicia Garza