The Women of Black Lives Matter

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Image by Sons & Brothers

It was the summer of 2013. Activist Alicia Garza sat at a bar drinking tequila with her husband and a couple friends when news struck, making a crack in the collective heart of humanity. George Zimmerman had been acquitted for killing Trayvon Martin. And 17-year-old Trayvon was put on trial for his own death.

Alicia, who had been closely following the trial, wrote a Facebook post, ‘A Love Note to Black People’.

Black people I love you.
I love us.
Our lives matter.
We matter.
Black Lives Matter.

Patrisse Cullors, her friend, commented #BlackLivesMatter, breathing a new strain of life into the ‘hashtag’. Opal Tometi, another organizer, called them and affirmed the need for a new movement.

Together, these three women spurred the most meaningful social justice movement of contemporary times, and one of the most unique movements in history.

Since 2013, the movement has spread across the country – in protest, in discussion, in revolutionary solidarity.

At its core, the movement is an appeal for the full humanity of humans.

“Black Lives Matter” sounds limiting. In a way, it is. But that’s the point.

By highlighting Black lives, the founders are purposely focusing on a key piece of the American story that has been erased and excluded from society for centuries.

The three co-creators of Black Lives Matter are redefining American history in a way that no other movement has paralleled. While focusing on the specific injustices committed against one group, they have managed to actively include all marginalized people that comprise that group, including Black trans, queer, disabled and illegal people.

For the first time in the American history of Black movements (and maybe all movements), we have a set of founders that have intentionally made it their agenda to fight for every imaginable person that forms a part of their community. Such a pursuit may seem obvious, but movements have failed time and time again.

The LGBTQI and women’s rights movement failed to include Black members of their respective communities. Black movements have historically failed to include Black women. The Chicano movement excluded Mexican women in its very name. Today, top universities still have “Latino scholarships.”

It’s hard to determine whether Opal, Patrisse and Alicia attaining the unattainable has something to do with all of them being women and two of them being queer. Regardless, the degree to which Black Lives Matter is inclusive of everyone that forms a part of its group is remarkable.

Contrary to popular opinion, Black Lives Matter even includes non-Blacks by appealing to all lives (not just Black lives) to stand in solidarity. Black lives matter.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 14: (L-R) CWB honorees Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi attend The New York Women’s Foundation Celebrating Women Breakfast at Marriott Marquis Hotel on May 14, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for The New York Women’s Foundation)