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Black Lives Matter

Updated: 10 hours ago

What is Black Lives Matter?

Black Lives Matter march in Oakland, California in 2014 (Image Source: Annette Bernhardt, December 14th, 2014)

Black Lives Matter is a movement as well as an organization with a goal of fighting against white supremacy and injustices against Black communities. The movement has also strongly supported the LGBT community, with transgender and queer members having leadership roles in the organization and leaders speaking out against sidelining Black LGBT activists. The Black Lives Matter movement, although it had its origins in the United States, has remained influential internationally, having 16 chapters in total in the United States and Canada and inspiring protests for Black lives in countries as far as Israel and South Africa.


Origins

Black Lives Matter rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery after the death of George Floyd (Image Source: GoToVan, May 31st, 2020)

Black Lives Matter started out in 2013 as a hashtag on social media protesting the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the murderer of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. It was started by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, three Black women who wanted to fight against the injustice Black people face in the United States’s criminal justice system. The creation of the Black Lives Matter movement was also inspired by several human rights movements in the past, ranging from the 1960s Civil Rights Movement to the 2000s LGBTQ+ movement.



Progression

Although it did not gain much traction immediately after its creation, Black Lives Matter started taking off in August 2014 after news of the homicide of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer spread globally on social media. In protests and rallies speaking out against this injustice, the Black Lives Matter movement grew online and in the streets, with “#BlackLivesMatter” being used over 50 thousand times per day on social media. The movement gained even more traction after the jury involved in the case decided not to charge Darren Wilson, the police officer in question, with Michael Brown’s homicide. Since then, the movement has been vocal about the issues of police brutality and discrimination against Black communities on a grander scale.


Resurgence

Black Lives Matter signs on the empty pedestal of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol, which was toppled by protesters for honoring a slave trader (Image Source: Caitlin Hobbs, June 7th, 2020)

The Black Lives Matter movement had a resurgence on May 25, 2020, when unarmed George Floyd was murdered at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who used a violent method of restriction to hold Floyd down after allegations emerged of him using a counterfeit $20 bill. A video of this event went viral on social media, and people all over the world became enraged and took to social media and the streets to protest against police brutality and to emphasize that “Black Lives Matter.” Ever since then, the Black Lives Matter movement has been increasingly active in the form of protests against more instances of police brutality and injustice both recent and not recent, including the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and Rayshard Brooks.

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