By Patrisse Cullors, Black Lives Matter Co-Founder and Executive Director
From the time historian Carter Woodson created Negro History Week in 1926 up through today’s celebration of Black History Month, the goal has always been to recognize Black Americans’ prolific contributions that had been ignored, dismissed or diminished in textbooks and popular culture.
The point is to highlight the pivotal role we play in this country’s advancement — from science, math, politics, literature, arts and more — and convey that our influence on every aspect of society and culture has been greater than what we were taught in history classes.
The spirit of Black History Month goes beyond achievement. It is also about remembering and demonstrating that our lives and contributions are creative, industrious, transformative and joyful. Given the traumas of the last year, it’s important to call out that our experience is about more than the deaths we protest and the pain we hope to heal. Black life is so much more than that. We are not only triumphant and resilient, we deserve to be celebrated and valued. Our minds, our bodies, and our spirits are worthy of real investment.
As I have said before, the point of abolition is to build a better future — one that goes beyond “Black Lives Matter.” Abolition starts with the premise that our lives matter, but our movement is more than three words. WE are more than three words. Our march towards freedom, the one we started 400 years ago, doesn’t end when we matter. That is just the start.
Going beyond mattering requires vision and innovation. We are looking forward to pouring our resources, our labor, and our love into a world that centers thriving Black lives, through everything from policy to art and cultural spaces. We will invest in ourselves so that our achievements are renowned. Tragedies like the Tulsa massacre in 1921 remind us that this sort of proud, Black ambition intimidates some. But we will not let white supremacists steer us from our path. They don’t have a say in our liberation agenda.
There is so much more to our organization — and movement — than just telling the global community that our lives matter. We will never abandon our fight for racial justice and our struggle for liberation. But our vision for justice and liberation must include the pursuit of opportunities that heal, nourish, and rejuvenate our lives. I look forward to sharing more details about these efforts in the coming weeks and months in the spirit of not only surviving, but thriving.