BLMNF Origin Story - Black Lives Matter
The three BLM founders—Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi—pose for a photo.

BLMNF Origin Story

In 2013, three radical Black organizers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — created a Black-centered political will and movement building project called #BlackLivesMatter. It was in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, George Zimmerman.

In 2014, Mike Brown was murdered by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Darnell Moore and Patrisse Cullors organized a national ride, called Black Life Matters Ride during Labor Day weekend that same year. In 15 days, we developed a plan of action to occupy the territory of St. Louis to support our brothers and sisters on the ground gathering over 600 people. During this time we made two commitments: to support the team on the ground in St. Louis, and to go back home and do the work wherever home was. We understood Ferguson was not an aberration, but in fact, a clear point of reference for what was happening to Black communities everywhere.

When it was time for us to leave, inspired by our friends in Ferguson, organizers from 18 different cities went back home and developed Black Lives Matter chapters in their communities and towns — broadening the political will and movement building reach catalyzed by the #BlackLivesMatter project and the work on the ground in Ferguson.

It became clear that we needed to continue organizing and building Black power across the country. People were hungry to galvanize their communities to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people, the way Ferguson organizers and allies were doing. Soon we created the Black Lives Matter Global Network infrastructure. It is adaptive and decentralized, with a set of guiding principles. Our goal is to support the development of new Black leaders, as well as create a network where Black people feel empowered to determine our destinies in our communities. The project is now a member-led global network of more than 40 chapters. Our members organize and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network would not be recognized worldwide if it weren’t for the folks in St. Louis and Ferguson who put their bodies on the line day in and day out, and who continue to show up for Black lives.

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