On July 13, 2013, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi founded a movement that would represent black people all around the world. In the midst of being frustrated with the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the three came together and founded a decentralized political and social movement called Black Lives Matter. The group’s focus is on reducing the amount of police violence that black people face in America. They also endeavor to shape policies related to black liberation.
Black Lives Matters started with a hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter. This was used on social media to protest the fact that George Zimmerman had been acquitted after murdering Trayvon Martin. Trayvon Martin was on his way back home from shop after purchasing candy and iced tea. Zimmerman saw the young man and shot him claiming that he looked suspicious. This incident shook all of America and many places beyond North America. To show solidarity, many started to use the hashtag. Shortly after, the movement became recognized across America.
What propelled the movement to a greater level of popularity was the demonstrations that they led, organized or inspired following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The protesting for Michael Brown took place in Ferguson, Missouri. The protests for Eric Garner took place in New York City. Since these protests, the movement went on to stage many other protests because of the unjust deaths of many African Americans.
Between 2014 and 2016, the trio that founded the movement expanded it to a national network of more than 30 different chapters. Within the Black Lives Matter movement, there is no formal structure or hierarchy. It is considered to be a decentralized political movement.
While the movement was known across America and began gaining some amount of recognition in regions beyond the United States, their worldwide fame was not concretized until the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, in 2020. In response to the brutality that Floyd faced from the police force, more than 20 million people gathered across America to protest what had transpired. This incident led to the Black Lives Matter movement becoming one of the largest movements in all of the United States.
One of the primary messages of the group during these protests was to defund the police. The movement was asking for the funds that would originally be channeled to the police department to be redirected to the development of black communities and other emergency response models.
Today, Black Lives Matters has over 40 chapters across the world. The group continues to address matters pertaining to the systematic and intentional targeting of black people across the United States of America.
One of the pillars of the Black Lives Matter movement’s protesting strategy is that they do not engage in violent acts. They are also very serious about inclusiveness. The organizers of the movement work with regular people day in and day out. They are very aware of the significant gaps in other movements and their leadership. They believe that most black liberation movements in America have only created room for black male heterosexuals. This leaves women, queer and transgender individuals and others in the background of the movement or completely left out. The leaders of BLM seek to keep these previously neglected groups near to the center of the leadership of the movement. The group has shared that this is done to increase the muscle of their movement while ensuring that they are not promoting the same harmful practices that left so many people despondent and neglected in past liberation movements.
Some of the companies that support the movement are Airbnb, A16z, Bumble, Cisco, DocuSign, Door Dash, Eaze, Etsy, Grindr, Grubhub, IBM, Matchstick Ventures, Microsoft, Niantic, Peloton, Reddit, RobinHood, Salesforce, Shopify, Snap, Uber, and Techtonic. This is not a complete list of the supporters and sponsors of this movement. With the protests that took place in the second quarter of 2020, there were many other companies that shared messages with their customers and with the public that communicated that they were standing with the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of the companies that stand in support of the movement have pledged to donate as much as $1 million and even more to the movement and projects that will uplift black communities across the United States of America.
With what has been happening in America for centuries, it is clear to see why the Black Lives Matter movement would gain so much support in 2020. Recently, the vice president of Versace footwear, Salehe Bembury, was racially profiled while supporting the very store he works for. The footage of the interaction between the two is appalling. The officers assumed that Salehe Bembury had a negative motive for being in the vicinity. Incidents such as these and others show why African Americans, other minority groups and those who stand in support of them are lifting their voices against the monstrous racism and injustice that is present in the United States.
As far as eyes can see, the Black Lives Matter movement is doing much for those who have no voice and who need leadership. The cry of the Black Lives Matter movement is a cry for the world to get to a place where all men, women, and genders are treated equally. The leadership and supporters of the movement have decided that they will not stop until equality is a reality.