The Guardian has an article about the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement and it’s founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi.
The Guardian article talks about how the Black Lives Matter hashtag got started. It started after the George Zimmerman verdict back in 2013. Alicia Garcia talks about the reaction from people after the verdict was announced and logging onto her Facebook page posting an online message.
“Everything went quiet, everything and everyone,” Garza says now. “And then people started to leave en masse. The one thing I remember from that evening, other than crying myself to sleep that night, was the way in which as a black person, I felt incredibly vulnerable, incredibly exposed and incredibly enraged. Seeing these black people leaving the bar, and it was like we couldn’t look at each other. We were carrying this burden around with us every day: of racism and white supremacy. It was a verdict that said: black people are not safe in America.”
Garza logged on to Facebook. She wrote an impassioned online message, “essentially a love note to black people”, and posted it on her page. It ended with: “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.”
Garza’s close friend, Patrisse Cullors, read the post in a motel room 300 miles away from Oakland that same night. Cullors, also a community organiser working in prison reform, started sharing Garza’s words with her friends online. She used a hashtag each time she reposted: #blacklivesmatter. The following day, Garza and Cullors spoke about how they could organise a campaign around these sentiments.
Alicia Garza mentions how she and her friend Patrisse Cullors decided to organize a campaign around black lives matter and reaching out to another friend Opal Tometi.
They reached out to Opal Tometi, another activist they knew in the field of immigrant rights. The three women started by setting up Tumblr and Twitter accounts and encouraging users to share stories of why #blacklivesmatter. Garza made protest signs with block capital letters and put them in the window of a local shoe shop. Cullors led a march down Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills with a banner emblazoned with the same hashtag. The slogan started gaining traction.
Like the article states you can’t help but think about what’s going on currently with Sandra Bland, the McKinney Texas incident and of course the murders of the Mother Emanuel 9 at the hands of a terrorist/white supremacist.
The article also talks about how social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and cell phone cameras have played a significant part in exposing police brutality.
The new movement is powerful yet diffuse, linked not by physical closeness or even necessarily by political consensus, but by the mobilising force of social media. A hashtag on Twitter can link the disparate fates of unarmed black men shot down by white police in a way that transcends geographical boundaries and time zones. A shared post on Facebook can organise a protest in a matter of minutes. Documentary photos and videos can be distributed on Tumblr pages and Periscope feeds, through Instagrams and Vines. Power lies in a single image. Previously unseen events become unignorable.
Check out the entire article at The Guardian.