Black Lives Matter

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Black Lives Matter is closely affiliated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. The movement created a website at BlackLivesMatter.com.

Founders

Alicia Garza acknowledged that she created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi "as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements."

Garza asserts that "Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression." [1]

Finances

It is not clear if BlackLivesMatter has been incorporated as a legal entity. Whatever its legal status, it accepts donations by using IDEX as a fiscal sponsor.

History

As organizers who worked with everyday people, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors often saw significant gaps in the movement. Black liberation movements in this country have created room and space and leadership mostly for Black heterosexual, cisgender men, leaving women, who are often queer or transgender, either out of the movement or in the background to move the work forward with little or no recognition. As younger organizers we recognized a need to center the leadership of women. Among our movement mentors were queer and trans people whose labor had been erased and replaced with an uncontested narrative of male leadership.

As #BlackLivesMatter developed throughout 2013 and 2014, they utilized it as a platform and organizing tool. Other groups, organizations, and individuals used it to amplify anti-Black racism across the country, in all the ways it showed up. Tamir Rice, Tanisha Anderson, Mya Hall, Walter Scott, Sandra Bland — these names are important. They’re inherently important and the space that #BlackLivesMatter held and continues to hold helped propel the conversation around the state-sanctioned violence they experienced. Particularly highlighting the egregious ways in which Black women, specifically Black trans women are violated. #BlackLivesMatter was developed in support of all Black lives.

In 2014, Mike Brown was murdered. Cullors "stayed up all night trying to figure out how to support the brave and courageous community of Ferguson and St. Louis as they were being brutalized by law enforcement, criticized by media, tear gassed, and pepper sprayed night after night. It was a guttural response to be with my people, my family. I called some friends to see if any of them would drive with me to Ferguson. Then, Darnell Moore, a good friend, said we should do a national ride during Labor Day weekend. We called it the “Black Life Matters Ride.” We put a call out to folks on the ground in St. Louis, asking whether it would be of use to have our team show up. They said yes. In 15 days we developed a plan of action to head to the occupied territory to support our brothers and sisters. THIS INCLUDED us spending time, in community, with St. Louis-based organizations as well as individuals we connected with who were on the ground in St. Louis. We asked them to let us know what their needs were and to tell us exactly how our presence could best be utilized to elevate their plight. Our goal was to amplify their work and not distract attention away from it. Over 600 people gathered. One of the most powerful displays of collective power were the moments local STL leaders met with and provided guidance to those of us who traveled from out of town. We made two commitments upon our return to our homes: to support the team on the ground in St. Louis and to go back home and do the work there. We understood Ferguson was not an aberration but, in fact, a clear point of reference for what was happening to Black communities everywhere."

When it was time for us to leave, inspired by our friends in Ferguson, organizers from 18 different cities went back home and developed Black Lives Matter (BLM) chapters in their communities and towns — broadening the political will and movement building reach catalyzed by the #BlackLivesMatter project and the work on the ground in Ferguson. It became clear that there was a need to continue organizing and building Black power across the country. People were hungry to galvanize their communities to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people, the way Ferguson organizers and allies were doing. Soon after, Opal, Alicia, Darnell and I helped create the BLM network infrastructure. It is adaptive and decentralized with a set of guiding principles. Our goal is to support the development of new Black leaders as well as create a network where Black people feel empowered to determine our destinies in our communities.

The project I co-created with Alicia and Opal is now the Black Lives Matter National Network with over 30 chapters both stateside and internationally. As co-creators and a network, we have consistently pushed and elevated the community of St. Louis and will continue to do so, taking personally the responsibility of uplifting the stories and experiences of those who contributed to building this powerful movement moment. People across the world have shown up to be on the front lines in moving Black people closer to liberation, albeit iteratively.[2]

Freedom Road connection

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Freedom Road Socialist Organization is a guiding force behind Black Lives Matter.

Communist Party infiltration

In a Janary 24 2018 article on the Communist Party USA website "Survey says, CPUSA members want to be heard" John Bachtell wrote;[3]

Most members are involved in their communities and in a range of labor, social justice, environmental and peace organizations.
Among the labor activists are trade union leaders and members of central labor councils, retiree organizations, Jobs with Justice and the Fight for 15.
Others are involved in feminist organizations including Planned Parenthood, defense of abortion clinics and the new #MeToo movement.
Many are involved in racial justice groups including Black Lives Matter and the NAACP, immigrant rights, LGTBQ organizations and disability rights groups.

Members were involved with Bernie Sanders campaign and are continuing their activism in Our Revolution, Swing Left, Indivisible, Working Families Party, statewide groups like the New Virginia Majority and local Democratic Party groups and 2018 electoral campaigns.
Several members are elected officials.

The Movement for Black Lives

The "Movement for Black Lives" conference was held in Cleveland Ohio, July 24-26, 2015.

Program

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Friday, July 24

Saturday, July 25

Sunday, July 26

  • We Gon' Be Alright: Visions of a Black Future
  • I Wish I Knew How It Feels To Be Free: Part 2
  • Art as Movement Work: Art and Culture for Black Lives
  • Making Resilience and Resistane Work: Healing for Black Lives
  • Creating a National Platform for Black Lives
  • Global Movement Building: International Advocacy and the Global Movement for Black Lives
  • Liberating Our Minds: Building Alternative Political Structures
  • Local Power: Policy Priorities and Coordination for Black Lives, Nelini Stamp
  • #Shutitdown: Building a National Action Table
  • Electric Melanin: Technology and Black Freedom, Dante Barry, Rashad Robinson
  • Movement Building: Creating Bases & Black Networks Across Regions Charlene Carruthers: Black Youth Project 100, Ash-Lee Henderson
  • Telling Our Stories: Communications Strategies & Narratives
  • Strengthening The Movement in Cleveland, Malaya Davis
  • Movement For Black Lives Convening Closing[4]

Visiting the White House

President Obama’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett met with Black Lives Matter activists September 16, 2015 at the White House, the latest sign that the Obama administration is involved with the controversial protest group.

Jarrett met with three organizers for Campaign Zero. DeRay Mckesson, Brittany Packnett, and Johnetta Elzie as well as Phillip Agnew of the Dream Defenders and Jamye Wooten, an organizer for Baltimore United for Change were there, according to a senior White House official who confirmed the visit to Buzzfeed.

After the meeting, Packnett tweeted a selfie with Jarrett thanking her for engaging the movement.

“Great meeting, Brittany. Truly appreciate your leadership!!” Jarrett replied on Twitter. Packnett has six recorded entries of visiting the complex long before the protests in Ferguson. She also was among the select group of Ferguson activists that met with Obama in December 2014. “I could tell he is taking this very personally,” Packnett explained after the 45 minute meeting with the president in the Oval Office. “He wants to see some clear, thoughtful action come from this.”

She also revealed that Obama sympathized with the movement, thanks to his background as a community organizer in Chicago.

“He offered us a lot of encouragement with his background as a community organizer, and told us that even incremental changes were progress,” she told reporters after the meeting. “He didn’t want us to get discouraged. He said, ‘Keep speaking truth to power.’”

Packnett was also selected as a member of Obama’s presidential task force on 21st century policing – and has a long record of activism in St. Louis including some time spent in Washington D.C.[5]

References