Fuse is once again celebrating an extended Black History Month by celebrating a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Black History before our very eyes. Today we highlight Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi (left-to-right in photo above), who co-founded the Black Lives Matter network in the summer of 2013 in response to George Zimmerman's acquittal for the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Begun online as an intersectional, "Black-centered political will and movement building project" (per Cullors), #BlackLivesMatter took to the streets in August 2014, vigorously protesting the police murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. BLM identifies itself as "an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise."
Alicia Garza is an Oakland, Calif.–based organizer and writer as well as the National Domestic Workers Alliance's special projects director. Patrisse Cullors is an organizer, artist and Fulbright scholar from L.A.; much of her activism has involved prison reform. Tometi is a Brooklyn-based first-generation Nigerian-American organizer and writer; she is the leader of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, "a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African and Caribbean immigrant communities."
Together, Garza, Cullors and Tometi appeared on the Politico 50 in 2015, recognizing "the thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics," and on Fortune's World's Greatest Leaders list in 2016. In December 2016, the three had a TED Talk interview with family activist/Family Story co-director Mia Birdsong:
Garza, Cullors, Tometi and the whole of Black Lives Matter work together to go...
"...beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.
Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement."
Garza and Cullors both identify as queer, and on BLM's Our Herstory page, they take time to address the frequent contextless appropriation of the movement's name, and the behavior's place in a long history of treating queer black women's work as invisible and up-for-grabs.