Photo credits: Citizen University and The Laura Flanders Show (cover photo credit: Ben Baker – Redux)
Black Lives Matter (BLM) Founder
Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi together founded Black Lives Matter. The three started the movement out of frustration in July 2013, with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. The movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans, that of Michael Brown—resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, a city near St. Louis—and Eric Garner in New York City. Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody. In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter activists became involved in the 2016 United States presidential election. Garza, Cullors, and Tometi expanded their project into a national network of over 30 local chapters between 2014 and 2016. The movement returned to national headlines and gained further international attention during the global George Floyd protests in 2020 following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. An estimated 15 million to 26 million people participated in the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, making it one of the largest movements in the country’s history.