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Black Lives Matter co-founder speaks on combatting racism

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Black Lives Matter co-founder speaks on combatting racism

Patrisse Cullors speaks about her role in the Black Lives Matter movement at the 28th annual Leonardo Dotantes Memorial Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 15, at City College in Santa Barbara Calif. Cullors started the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and has been an outspoken activist for racial equality.

Patrisse Cullors speaks about her role in the Black Lives Matter movement at the 28th annual Leonardo Dotantes Memorial Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 15, at City College in Santa Barbara Calif. Cullors started the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and has been an outspoken activist for racial equality.

Lauren Michelle McGee

Patrisse Cullors speaks about her role in the Black Lives Matter movement at the 28th annual Leonardo Dotantes Memorial Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 15, at City College in Santa Barbara Calif. Cullors started the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and has been an outspoken activist for racial equality.

Lauren Michelle McGee

Lauren Michelle McGee

Patrisse Cullors speaks about her role in the Black Lives Matter movement at the 28th annual Leonardo Dotantes Memorial Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 15, at City College in Santa Barbara Calif. Cullors started the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and has been an outspoken activist for racial equality.

Jun Starkey, Staff Writer

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In a jam-packed Garvin Theatre Thursday, the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement  Patrisse Cullors educated the audience on the importance of organizing and coming together as a community to combat racism.

She began by recalling the story of her 19-year old brother being beaten brutally while in a county jail, so badly that he blacked out and was later denied medical treatment for his injuries.

Cullors explained how she came across the Trayvon Martin case, where a 17-year old was shot in his own neighborhood by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. She said that she was scrolling through Facebook when she found a small article about what had happened. She immediately went to check other news sites and was shocked to see that it had no coverage elsewhere.

She followed the trial until Zimmerman’s acquittal in 2013, taking to the internet yet again to understand how this could happen and why. She said that during that period a friend had posted a “love note to black folks,” that ended with the phrase black lives matter.

“I remember seeing those three words and I was like ‘that’s it, that’s ours, that’s what we’re going to use,’” she said.

She said that she predicted that putting a hashtag in front of it would help it go viral.

Within 48 hours Cullors and her longtime friend Alicia Garza had turned the hashtag into a political project that now has 40 chapters all over the world.

There was an opportunity for questions, a City College student from the audience spoke up about her struggles at the college and asked for advice.

Nia Rovis asks Patrisse Cullors how students can promote important dialog about race on campus at the 28th annual Leonardo Dotantes Memorial Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the City College Garvin Theater in Santa Barbara Calif. Cullors spoke about personal experiences as well the case of Trayvon Martin, who was a 17-year-old that was shot in his own neighborhood.

Lauren Michelle McGee
Nia Revis asks Patrisse Cullors how students can promote important dialog about race on campus at the 28th annual Leonardo Dotantes Memorial Lecture on Thursday, Nov. 15, at the City College Garvin Theater in Santa Barbara Calif. Cullors spoke about personal experiences as well the case of Trayvon Martin, who was a 17-year-old that was shot in his own neighborhood.

“I wanted some advice about being a black student in a majority white school,” said first year student Nia Revis. “We’ve experienced a lot of struggles here, like being harassed on social media, being called monkeys, go back to Africa, being called n-words in the library, several things that we’ve gone to the administration with, trying to get support from staff behind us, we’ve been working on ways to control that. I just want to know personally what you think we should do. I feel like I’m in a box and I’m just so angry.”

Cullors said she empathized with Revis and that her advice would be to continue to call upon the white administration to take this seriously, because these types of issues usually fall upon the black members of the administration to deal with, which isn’t fair. She said that oftentimes white administrators can minimize racial slurs or say “well I don’t know if it’s that bad.”

Cullors said she ran into the same problem of minimizing black struggle in the first year or so of the Black Lives Matter creation. Many in her community questioned the decision to focus on black lives, others wanted to try and use the phrase for themselves. They were able to use this period of time to keep organizing and creating a movement that moved from the internet to the real world, and have colleges, corporations, and organizations using the phrase.

Cullors said that the Black Lives Matter movement was not only for African-Americans, but for black people all over the globe.

“We actually wanted to challenge black people in this country to think about black people around the world,” she said, “And that anti-black racism is actually a global phenomenon.”

Cullors explained that due to this world wide spread of anti-black racism, places like Canada, the UK, and South Africa have opened chapters of Black Lives Matter.

“I remember telling people we’re in a state of emergency and if we don’t shift the way we’re relating, much more damage is to come,” she said.

Cullors said that the two years following the 2016 election have been both devastating and inspiring.

“I have watched the rise of a political movement over the last 5 years, of some folks who thought they’d never show up for a protest,” she said.

Cullors reiterated that now is a time for organizing, and that her goal for the talk she gave was to inspire students to organize and come together.

“It’s going to take all of us to make sure that in 2020, we have a new country.”

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One Response to “Black Lives Matter co-founder speaks on combatting racism”

  1. David on November 17th, 2018 5:21 am

    For too long some have concluded their lives matter more than others. Black Lives Matter brings to attention a proper injustice. The others who have not been inclusive were largely innocent, and we all walk to Vons or Ralph’s out of habit and familiarity. But the best America is where we all meet as All Lives Matter. I know that is a bit utopian, but any tendency to use BLM as punitive propels a pendulum effect, and you miss the mark. That can go on for generations. There is no one here from the 1700’s or 1800’s. Germany after WW11 was re-established for the innocent populace after the instigators were removed, even though some of the populace were really just reforming. But the premise of innocent until guilty works at all levels. Gain the voice. Shoot for the middle. The instigators in your injustice are gone. Gandhi and MLK were spot on. Its really the only way to stop the pendulum and have that peace where all share the world together ( thank you John Lennon!).

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Black Lives Matter co-founder speaks on combatting racism