Before those three words became a hashtag and an inspirational rallying cry for a new national movement, they were a heartbreaking plea for simple recognition.
First shared publicly on a Saturday in the summer of 2013 — the day George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin seemed to say the opposite — “Black Lives Matter” was an affirmation of a basic humanity too long denied.
In a recent phone interview, Alicia Garza reflected on the moment she posted “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter” to Facebook, how her friend and fellow activist Patrisse Cullors then shared Black Lives Matter as a hashtag, and why it has resonated so powerfully ever since.
“We live in a world where it’s not actually true,” Garza explained. “To have a message that is affirming of people’s existence, is affirming of people’s experiences.”
That message of affirmation continues to resonate far beyond Garza’s words — and it’s what makes the movement she co-founded (along with Cullors and Opal Tometi) so different from the fights for civil rights that came before. From Gandhi to Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela, social justice movements have always been about more than their courageous and inspirational leaders. It’s the multitude of diverse individuals who unified behind a common cause that propelled movements forward.
But the diversity of those unified individuals wasn’t always so visible — and that’s what sets #BLM and the collective Movement for Black Lives apart from their predecessors. While #BLM has been justifiably hailed for galvanizing a new generation of activists through social media and mobilizing through a more distributed organizational structure, its leaders see their embrace of intersectionality and the foregrounding of multidimensional identities and perspectives as critical to ensuring this movement succeeds.
“Blackness is not a monolith,” Garza said. “There is no one way to be black.” Read more
Black people are expected to constantly go out of their way to make sure they don’t appear threatening. Meanwhile, George Zimmerman never had to care in the slightest that carrying a gun while following a teenager home from the store would make him feel threatened.
Black people are expected to obey if they don’t want to get hurt. Meanwhile, society defends George Zimmerman even though he disobeyed the 911 dispatcher.
Black people’s criminal records are literally used as reasons why they deserve to die. Meanwhile, George Zimmerman is still seen as a hero despite assaulting a police officer and pulling a gun on his intimate partner.
But tell me again how racism doesn’t exist anymore.
On Monday morning, a judge sentenced Matthew Apperson, the 38-year-old Florida man convicted of shooting at George Zimmerman, to 20 years in prison. In the courtroom on Monday, Zimmerman’s description of Apperson is irony at its finest.
*says the N word* *uses black face* *promotes harmful stereotypes of oppressed people*
Well you know, our U.S. soldiers die for our right of free speech, so I should be able to say and express what I want :)
*steps on/burns American flag to express their displeasure in the factual corruption and institutional racism in America*
HOW DARE YOU? That flag represents the lives of soldiers who died for this country and you're basically shitting on them. If you don't like this country or this flag, GTFO! (Southern Whites chime in) We can always go back to the Confederate Flag!
Four years ago Friday, Trayvon Martin was killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Martin’s death, along with those of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, spurred the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. RIP Trayvon.
Since the debate Sunday, the internet has been obsessed with Ken Bone. But in recently discovered Reddit post about George Zimmerman, Bone wrote that the death of Trayvon Martin “justified.” Meanwhile, Bone is cashing in on his viral fame in numerous ways.
Good Morning AmeriKKKa (9/28/15): The world woke up to George Zimmerman trending on Twitter again. Why, you may ask– is he finally dead?! Nope. That little shit just decided to brag about killing Trayvon Martin again. Twitter has since removed the image, but refuses to ban Zimmerman, even as he flaunts his violent and deadly racism. #staywoke #farfromover
On February 26th 2012, George Zimmerman stalked 17-year-old Trayvon Martin through a gated community in Sanford, Florida, and then shot him through the heart. Earlier this week, the U.S.
Department of Justice declined
to file civil rights charges against the killer, two years after a state court
acquitted him of murder. These are the lessons we learned in between.