Patrisse Khan-Cullors is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Co-founder of Black Lives Matter, and Founder of Dignity and Power Now she is a New York Times Best Selling Author, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and Sydney Peace Prize awardee. Patrisse recently toured her multimedia performance art piece, "POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied," a gripping performance piece highlighting the impact of mass criminalization and state violence in Black communities across the United States.
Alicia Garza is an Oakland-based organizer, writer, public speaker, and freedom dreamer who is currently the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. Garza, along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Khan-Cullors, also co-founded Black Lives Matter, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combating anti-Black state-sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.
Since the rise of the BLM movement, Garza has become a powerful voice in the media. Her articles and interviews have been featured in Time, Mic, The Guardian, Elle.com, Essence, Democracy Now!, and The New York Times.
In addition, her work has received numerous recognitions, including being named on The Root's 2016 list of 100 African American achievers and influencers, the 2016 Glamour Women of the Year Award, the 2016 Marie Claire New Guard Award, and as a Community Change Agent at the 2016 BET's Black Girls Rock Awards.
Most important, as a queer Black woman, Garza's leadership and work challenge the misconception that only cisgender Black men encounter police and state violence. While the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were catalysts for the emergence of the BLM movement, Garza is clear: In order to truly understand how devastating and widespread this type of violence is in Black America, we must view this epidemic through a lens of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
Opal Tometi is a New York-based Nigerian-American writer, strategist, and community organizer. Opal is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. The historic political project was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-Black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives. Opal is credited with creating the online platforms and initiating the social media strategy during the project's early days. The campaign has grown into a national network of approximately 40 chapters. In 2016, in recognition of their contribution to human rights, Opal Tometi and the #BlackLivesMatter co-founders received an honorary doctorate degree, BET's Black Girls Rock Community Change Agent Award, recognition among the world's fifty greatest leaders by Fortune and POLITICO magazines, and the first ever Social Movement of the Year Award from the Webbys.
Opal is currently at the helm of the country's leading Black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Founded in 2006, BAJI is 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. As the Executive Director at BAJI, Opal collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington DC, and communities throughout the Southern states. The organization helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake. BAJI is an award-winning organization with recognition by leading institutions across the country.
A transnational feminist, Opal supports and helps shape the strategic work of Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights, and the Black Immigration Network (BIN) international and national formations respectively, dedicated to people of African descent. She has presented at the United Nations and participated with the UN’s Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women.
Opal is being featured in the Smithsonian’s new National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) for her historic contributions.
Prior to becoming Executive Director, Opal worked as Co-Director and Communications Director at BAJI. Her contributions include leading organizing efforts for the first ever Black-led rally for immigrant justice and the first Congressional briefing on Black immigrants in Washington DC. Additionally, she coordinated BAJI’s work as launch partner with Race Forward’s historic Drop the I-Word campaign, working with the campaign to raise awareness about the importance of respectful language and history through the lens of the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement and current migration of the Black diaspora.
Opal has been active in social movements for over a decade. She is a student of liberation theology and her practice is in the tradition of Ella Baker, informed by Stuart Hall, bell hooks and Black Feminist thinkers. She has been published in the Oxford Dictionary of African Biographies, was #10 on the 2015 Root 100 list and she was named a “New Civil Rights Leader” by the Los Angeles Times in 2015 and ESSENCE magazine in 2014, for her cutting edge movement building work which bridges immigrant and human rights work to the ever-growing Black liberation movement. She was a lead architect of the Black-Brown Coalition of Arizona and was involved in grassroots organizing against SB 1070 with the Alto Arizona campaign. Opal is a former Case Manager for survivors of domestic violence and still provides community education on the issue.
Opal holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Masters of Arts degree in Communication and Advocacy. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in the Republic of Brooklyn, New York where she loves riding her single speed bike and collecting African art.