On Thursday, the Black Lives Matter movement reached a milestone, marking 10 years since its founding in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Shot to death in the Florida gated community where his father lived in 2012, Martin was an early symbol of a movement that now has influence in politics, law enforcement and the wider debate about racial progress in the US and beyond.
BLM activists and organizations plan to celebrate the movement’s decade with in-person and virtual events. Calls for action include renewed efforts to end police department funding and reinvest in black communities that have been disproportionately affected by police brutality, unequal treatment in criminal justice systems, and mass incarceration.
According to prominent movement activist Melina Abdullah, following Supreme Court decisions that blocked the release of student loan debt disproportionately owned by black borrowers and prohibited affirmative action in higher education, the need for the existence of BLM has become crystal clear.
“This moment of movement means we have to absolutely redouble our efforts and redouble our commitment to making black lives matter,” said Abdullah, director of BLM Grassroots Inc, a collective of organizers across the country.
“Ten years later, we’re getting a glimpse of what would have happened if Black Lives Matter hadn’t happened,” she said. fight.”
Leimert Park, the historic district and cultural center of Black Los Angeles, will host “People’s Justice Festival #BLMTurns10” in Los Angeles on Saturday. The festival is conceived as a village and will include a pop-up garden dedicated to the families of people killed by police and white supremacist violence.
The organizers of the festival invited Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, to perform. Scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West, who is running for US President as an independent candidate in 2024, was invited to deliver the festival’s keynote address.
The BLM movement first emerged in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a mixed white and Hispanic local patrol volunteer who killed Martin the year before. Zimmerman told authorities he was acting in self-defense when he shot Martin. He also admitted to an emergency dispatcher that he was following a black teenager and described him as a potential burglar in the gated community of Sanford, Florida.
Martin’s meeting with Zimmerman, and the delay in arresting and charging the shooter with murder, raised questions about how police are handling alleged lynching of black victims. In 2012, former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black commander in chief, highlighted public concerns about fairness in the case when he said, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.”
On July 13, 2013, a Florida jury of six women, all but one white, found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. The immediate backlash to the verdict reverberated across Florida and the US, activating a new generation of black racial justice groups including the Dream Defenders and BYP100.
BLM co-founders Patrice Cullors, Alicia Garza and Ayo Tometi — three activists credited with using the phrase as a statement and organizational strategy — initially promised to create a decentralized, consensus-driven organization. The August 2014 shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri, helped the phrase “Black Lives Matter” become a powerful rallying cry for progressives and a favorite target of derision from law enforcement unions and political conservatives.
But just three years after its existence, all but one of the founders continued to participate in the growing organization of the movement. And in 2020, an unprecedented wave of donations to the movement in the wake of protests against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police meant BLM needed more infrastructure.
Amid disputes with local activists over the direction of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Inc. manages a charitable donation in the amount of tens of millions of dollars. BLM Grassroots Inc. works separately.
The foundation is celebrating BLM’s 10th anniversary with the launch of a campaign called “Police Action Week”. On Monday, he released a digital ad renewing calls by 2020 to end funding for police departments. The organization is also calling on supporters to ask local and national elected officials to submit a draft proclamation proclaiming July 13 “Black Lives Matter Day.”
“As we continue to crack down on police funding, invest in black communities, and rethink safety in our communities, we need our elected officials to focus on the people, not the police,” BLM Foundation board member D’Jane Parker said in a statement.
“In the safest places around the world, there are no more police, no more prisons, more prisons or harsher sentences,” she said. “They have better access to economic opportunities, quality education, stable housing and health care.”
Aaron Morrison is a New York member of the AP Race and Ethnicity Team. Follow him on Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/aaronlmorison.
Copyright 2023 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.