Black Lives Matter engages audiences in frank, open discussion about race relations in America. Founders and leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement will discuss the feelings and frustrations that led to their revolutionary new approach to social activism.
Fueled by deep-rooted social, economic and cultural issues stemming from decades of tense race relations and powered by the pervasive presence of social media, Black Lives Matter has rapidly evolved from a Twitter hashtag into this generation’s civil rights movement.
Since the hashtag was started in 2013 by Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, the impassioned message has seamlessly shifted from the internet into the streets and the mainstream, while maintaining its online clout and widespread allure. Emblazoned across t-shirts, protest banners and news headlines, #BlackLivesMatter has turned attention to the troubling disconnect between law enforcement and the black community, driving nationwide protests on a scale not seen in a half-century.
Rooted in a quest for liberation, the movement’s powerful message has connected people across the country working to end the various forms of injustice. Seen as a fundamental means to an essential end, the movement strives to transform society into a world where the lives and contributions of all individuals are recognized equally. A galvanizing movement from the onset, it has gained powerful momentum in the wake of the shootings of Michael Brown and John Crawford III and the death of Eric Garner; after a grand jury cleared the officer charged in Garner’s case, #BlackLivesMatter was tweeted 13,000 times in one hour.
With a vision of justice for all, the Black Lives Matter founders engage audiences in discussion about race relations in America and how their activism from the fringes became the national movement it is today, galvanizing individuals to stand up and together against the state violence, police brutality and social injustice plaguing our country.
With an impressive resume of social activism in response to social injustices, Patrisse Cullors was inspired to action by the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Starting the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, Cullors prompted activism nationwide and introduced the banner under which this generation’s civil rights movement marches. An established community leader and performance artist trained under the founder of politically expressive theater, Cullors raises awareness to issues—specifically law enforcement accountability—through a blend of activism and art.
Cullors’ advocacy has earned her honors including the Mario Savio Young Activist Of The Year Award and recognition as a 'New Civil Rights Leader For The 21st Century’ by the LA Times. In 2015, Cullors and her Black Lives Matter co-founders were honored with inclusion on The Root’s Top 100 List for the movement’s social and political impact. Cullors was also honored with the Berger-Marks 2015 Edna Award.
Jamelle Bouie is chief political correspondent for Slate Magazine where he writes on national politics. He is based in Washington D.C., and his work has appeared in The American Prospect, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the New Yorker online. Jamelle is a native of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and attended the University of Virginia, where he graduated with degrees in political and social thought, and government.