When you see something, you say something. That is how people have been able to try and keep each others safe for more than 400 years now in the United States of America.
They put down most of the time for speaking out – there are documented history of black slaves rebelling and wanting a better life for themselves and others who look like them.
It has been a 400-year-old fight which manifests today in how they are treated by the police, the education system, the job market and even in politics.
After hearing and seeing many unarmed people being murdered by police officers and white people, three women set to do something about it.
Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza started a hashtag #BlackLivesMatter after unarmed teenager, Travon Martin was killed.
In July 2013, when George Zimmerman, the man who killed Trayvon Martin was acquitted activist Alicia Garza posted on Facebook, ending with: “black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.”
Garza’s friend Patrisse Khan-Cullors added the hashtag, and #BlackLivesMatter and it went viral.
Amid outrage for Zimmerman’s acquittal, the three words became a rallying cry for thousands around the world protesting violence and systemic racism against black people.
The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter then became a movement and today it is leading a cry for justice for George Floyd, another unarmed black man murdered by a white man – this time a police officer.
Below are brief profiles about the three amazing women of Black Lives Matter:
Patrisse Khan-Cullors is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and Founder of Dignity and Power Now she is a New York Times Best Selling Author, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and Sydney Peace Prize awardee. Patrisse recently toured her multimedia performance art piece, “POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied,” a gripping performance piece highlighting the impact of mass criminalization and state violence in Black communities across the United States.
Alicia Garza is an Oakland-based organizer, writer, public speaker, and freedom dreamer who is currently the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. Garza, along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Khan-Cullors, also co-founded Black Lives Matter, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combating anti-Black state-sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.
Since the rise of the BLM movement, Garza has become a powerful voice in the media. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Time, Mic, The Guardian, Elle.com, Essence, Democracy Now!, and The New York Times.
In addition, her work has received numerous recognitions, including being named on The Root’s 2016 list of 100 African American achievers and influencers, the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award, the 2016 Marie Claire New Guard Award, and as a Community Change Agent at the 2016 BET’s Black Girls Rock Awards.
Opal Tometi is a New York-based Nigerian-American writer, strategist, and community organizer. Opal is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. The historic political project was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-Black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives. Opal is credited with creating the online platforms and initiating the social media strategy during the project’s early days. The campaign has grown into a national network of approximately 40 chapters. In 2016, in recognition of their contribution to human rights, Opal Tometi and the #BlackLivesMatter co-founders received an honorary doctorate degree, BET’s Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award, recognition among the world’s fifty greatest leaders by Fortune and POLITICO magazines, and the first ever Social Movement of the Year Award from the Webbys.
Opal is currently at the helm of the America’s leading Black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Founded in 2006, BAJI is a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African, and Caribbean immigrant communities. As the Executive Director at BAJI, Opal collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington DC, and communities throughout the Southern states. The organization helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake. BAJI is an award-winning organization with recognition by leading institutions across the country.
A transnational feminist, Opal supports and helps shape the strategic work of Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights, and the Black Immigration Network (BIN) international and national formations respectively, dedicated to people of African descent. She has presented at the United Nations and participated with the UN’s Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women.
Opal is being featured in the Smithsonian’s new National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) for her historic contributions.
All three women were named as part of the 100 Influential Women of 2013 by Time Magazine.
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