BLM activists: Meet 9 people behind the Black Lives Matter movement - CNN
Story by Chris JamesVideos by CNN Digital Productions
Updated 7:00 AM ET, Sat February 6, 2021
Summer 2020 saw a paradigm shift in America's ongoing struggle for racial justice. In the midst of a deadly pandemic and historic levels of unemployment, people from all walks of life took to the streets to protest the deaths of Black citizens by police.
From George Floyd and Breonna Taylor in 2020, to Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and many others before them -- countless names in recent memory have been transformed into hashtags, human representations of a public safety system that time and time again has shown brutality and indifference toward Black lives.
But in the process of turning that devastating pain of untimely death into a purposeful rallying cry to "say their names," millions of peaceful and passionate voices have banded together in solidarity to demand a better society. These proud voices are inspiring hope, building community and breaking barriers.
The Tipping Point
The world watched in horror as then-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against the neck of George Floyd for more than seven minutes -- killing him while being filmed in front of horrified bystanders.
This single incident on May 25, 2020, would soon reverberate around the world. In a matter of days, Minneapolis became the epicenter of a reinvigorated Black Lives Matter movement.
City Council member Jeremiah Ellison, 31, an artist turned politician, said he saw the crisis as an opportunity to reimagine public safety while actively listening to the concerns of constituents who felt victimized by an increasingly militarized system of policing.
For many residents, anger toward the status quo boiled over into what Kandace Montgomery, 30, founder of the Black Visions collective in Minneapolis, calls "righteous rage." As calls for equitable change are being rooted in reinvestment toward housing, education and health care, Ellison said he hopes Minneapolis can serve as an example for cities around the country.
Life of Activism
Over generations in America, the movement for civil rights and racial progress has been carried and organized by legions of dedicated Black women.
After the killing of Breonna Taylor by police in Louisville, Kentucky, in March 2020, it was largely the work of Black women that brought the case nationwide attention, as they took to the streets imploring as many people as possible to "say her name."
Nupol Kiazolu, 20, is one of these women, a self-described member of the "Trayvon Martin Generation."
As a sixth grader, she led a silent protest at her middle school. Armed with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea -- which Trayvon was carrying when he was killed nearly nine years ago -- and wearing a hoodie with the message "Do I Look Suspicious?" written on the back, Kiazolu said she understood at an early age the mere act of existing while Black could be deadly.
Nearly a decade later, she's become one of the most well-known activists in the Black Lives Matter movement and a member of the so-called Louisville 87.
After being arrested at a sit-in on the lawn of the Kentucky attorney general and fearing for her life in jail, she said she felt further emboldened to continue loudly and unapologetically spreading her message for justice.
A Social Movement
One fundamental difference between 2020's protest movement and others that have come before has been the increasingly sophisticated presence of social media.
With its growing influence over young people across the globe, the TikTok app became a particularly unlikely yet massive tool for activism and education.
Prior to the summer of 2020, TikTok influencer Jackie James, 17, said she had never felt the need to post about politics or social justice. But watching the video of George Floyd's death changed everything.
She began opening up about the racism she'd experienced as a Black teenager in Fargo, North Dakota -- urging her audience of 2.6 million to understand the devastating realities of inequality.
Across the country in Santa Clarita, California, Sofia Ongele, 20, was also employing TikTok to help her peers understand the Black Lives Matter movement. Using her expert coding skills as a so-called "hacktivist," she's created web apps and automatic email templates to help people more seamlessly lobby for change, helping mobilize thousands of her followers in calling for racial justice.
One of the defining aspects of 2020's protest movement was its sheer diversity. At rallies around the country, people of all different races united in defense of Black lives.
Amid the pandemic, the very act of attending a demonstration in itself represented physical sacrifice. But for undocumented immigrants who joined the protest, they were taking on an entirely different level of risk by adding their voice for change.
Getting arrested at a protest could quickly jeopardize immigration status.
Mxima Guerrero, 30, is a DACA recipient who was taken into custody after attending a protest in Phoenix. If it weren't for the mobilization of her fellow activist community and quick-acting legal representatives, she could have been deported to Mexico.
While some might wonder why anyone would choose to risk so much just to attend a protest, Guerrero is adamant that she was doing the right thing. She said she sees the struggles of Black and brown people as interconnected, and is working with young organizers to inspire the next generation of leaders.
A Political Future
For some members of Generation Z, the death of George Floyd gave birth to an impassioned and unexpected sense of activism.
Chi Oss, 22, had never attended a protest until the summer of 2020.
Unable to forget the horrific video of Floyd's death, he said he found a therapeutic outlet for that pain and sadness on the streets of New York.
Protesting helped Oss process underlying trauma that he said had built up over his years living as a Black man in America. Within just a few weeks, he became one of the loudest voices calling for systemic change. And after months of organizing and engaging with community, he decided to take his activism a step further by announcing his candidacy for the New York City Council. If elected, Oss would be the youngest elected official in the city's history. In deciding to engage in democracy, he said he hopes to inspire others to realize the power of claiming a seat at the political table.
Within social movements of the digital age, there are often specific moments caught on camera that encapsulate much larger issues.
Whether they spark agreement or outrage, the raw emotion captured in these viral videos resonates with the millions of people who watch, share, debate and analyze.
In 2015, Kwame Rose, now 26, ascended to this viral fame after a confrontation with Fox News' Geraldo Rivera that was filmed by a bystander. Rivera had gone to Baltimore in the wake of Freddie Gray's death in police custody, in April 2015, which prompted massive protests and unrest.
Rose was livid that so many news outlets had come to his city to report on the burning buildings and not the millions of people living in poverty for generations.
This video would catapult Rose to the forefront of activism, changing his life in both positive and negative ways. Today he is dedicated to a guiding principle of helping people in his city, working with World Central Kitchen to provide meals for those in need during the Covid-19 crisis.
At a New York Pride Month protest called Brooklyn Liberation, thousands of people stood together wearing all white to call attention to the epidemic of violence against the Black trans community.
One of the attendees of that rally, Vanessa Warri, 29, said she sees her mere existence as a Black trans woman in America as a form of resistance in a society that has historically failed to ensure her safety. She's using her platform as a social welfare MSW/PhD candidate at UCLA to give a voice to a community that has long been silenced.
Warri said she is committed to this work not just for her own future, but to help improve the lives of an untold number of transgender people who continue to face immense challenges in a predominantly transphobic society.
Inner-city Black communities were hit particularly hard in 2020, and not just by the deadly coronavirus pandemic and an unprecedented economic crisis.
Aalayah Eastmond, 19, is a college student in DC who has experienced the terror of gun violence firsthand. As a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, she witnessed the murder of her classmates and managed to escape death herself.
In the aftermath of that mass shooting, she discovered her voice as a gun violence prevention activist. She's made it her mission to advocate for increased investment in inner-city communities, and says she sees it as the only way to effectively stop the disproportionate impact of gun violence on Black Americans.
Video producers: Chris James, Isabela Quintero, Alice Yu and Allison BrownEditors: Nick Blatt, Jesse Threatt and Amy Marino
Read the original post:
- 'Ingraham Angle' on Black Lives Matter, inflation - Fox News - November 13th, 2021
- Kyle Rittenhouse Gives Testimony on Deadly Shooting at Black Lives Matter Protest in Wisconsin - The Peoples Vanguard of Davis - November 13th, 2021
- USC professor speaks out on refusal to remove pro-police flag from office: Campus is a 'progressive bubble' - Fox News - November 13th, 2021
- TikTok Influencer Of Color Faced `Frustrating Obstacle Trying To Add The Word Black To His Creator Marketplace Bio - Forbes - July 12th, 2021
- Black Lives Matter and pandemic focus of this year's 'Art and Social Justice Exhibition' - South Bend Tribune - July 12th, 2021
- 'Person flying it is a racist,' Utah Black Lives Matter says of those who fly American flag - Salt Lake Tribune - July 12th, 2021
- Philly cops brother charged with assaulting Black Lives Matter protester in Fishtown - The Philadelphia Inquirer - July 12th, 2021
- Florida man admits murder-for-hire plot that he tried to blame on Black Lives Matter - The Independent - July 12th, 2021
- TikTok blocked creators from using 'Black Lives Matter' in bios | TheHill - The Hill - July 12th, 2021
- Black Lives Matter Sudbury reflects on first year of local activism - CBC.ca - July 12th, 2021
- Do Black Lives Really Matter at Lululemon? - The Root - July 12th, 2021
- Fact check: Has Japan has banned all Black Lives Matter apparel from the Olympics? - WRAL.com - July 12th, 2021
- Black Lives Matter marks one year in Sudbury - CTV Toronto - July 12th, 2021
- Reparations: Can Money Absolve the Sins of the Past? - Voice of America - July 12th, 2021
- Hear Ministry's Seething New Song "Good Trouble," Inspired by Black Lives Matter - Revolver Magazine - July 12th, 2021
- How Black Lives Matter put slave reparations back on the agenda - FRANCE 24 English - April 20th, 2021
- Albany Black Lives Matter protest takes to the streets - Times Union - April 20th, 2021
- Miss Grand International wins the crown in Black Lives Matter-inspired dress: 'I'm proud to be Black' - Yahoo Sports - April 20th, 2021
- Breonna Taylors mother blasts Black Lives Matter movement - The Independent - April 20th, 2021
- "Enough is Enough": Black Lives Matter Twin Ports marches through Duluth to spread their message - KBJR 6 - April 20th, 2021
- 'The fear increases. The anger grows' Black Lives Matter rally held at Monongalia County Courthouse in Morgantown (West Virgina) - WV News - April 20th, 2021
- Face facts: Black Lives Matter is all about hate - February 10th, 2021
- What Is The Black Lives Matter Movement? - WorldAtlas - February 10th, 2021
- Who Is Black Lives Matter? - Washington Examiner - February 10th, 2021
- Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S ... - February 10th, 2021
- The Agenda of Black Lives Matter Is Far Different From the ... - February 10th, 2021
- Black Lives Matter: A primer on what it is and what it ... - February 10th, 2021
- PolitiFact | Is Black Lives Matter a Marxist movement? - February 10th, 2021
- Boulder's Motus Theater to hear about immigration from Black Lives Matter founder - coloradopolitics.com - February 10th, 2021
- Lompoc Black Lives Matter organizers awarded Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize - Lompoc Record - February 10th, 2021
- #BlackLivesMatter: A Silver Lining to the Movement's Aesthetic - Harvard Political Review - February 10th, 2021
- Livingston Kicks Off Black History Month Events with Black Lives Matter Banner Dedication - TAPinto.net - February 10th, 2021
- BLM influencers: 10 Black Lives Matter activists on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter you should follow - USA TODAY - February 4th, 2021
- A man in Illinois pleaded guilty to inciting a violent riot in support of Black Lives Matter - Insider - Insider - February 4th, 2021
- From Black Panthers to Black Lives Matter: The fight for equality continues - KTVU San Francisco - February 4th, 2021
- How Black Lives Matter Came to the Academy - The New Yorker - February 4th, 2021
- Valley of the Flowers Peace Prize awarded to Lompoc Black Lives Matter organizers - Lompoc Record - February 4th, 2021
- Nonprofit barred for supporting Black Lives Matter may be allowed back in Maine jail - Press Herald - February 4th, 2021
- USC looks to preserve the Black Lives Matter Movement through firsthand experiences - WLTX.com - February 4th, 2021
- Bills filed to counter Black Lives Matter protests - The Herald Bulletin - February 4th, 2021
- Breonna Taylor: A beloved sister becomes a symbol of pain, an icon of hope - USA TODAY - February 4th, 2021
- How the Radical Graphic Design of the Black Panthers Influences the Movement for Black Lives - HarpersBAZAAR.com - February 4th, 2021
- Beethoven Meets Black Lives Matter in Heartbeat Opera's Breathing Free - San Francisco Classical Voice - February 4th, 2021
- Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action 2021 - School Library Journal - February 4th, 2021
- A summer of solidarity: Looking back on the Black Lives Matter marches in Japan - The Japan Times - December 22nd, 2020
- Black Lives Matter has brought a global reckoning with history. This is why the Uluru Statement is so crucial - The Conversation AU - December 22nd, 2020
- New WA Black Lives Matter Alliance agenda aims for 'liberation' - KUOW News and Information - December 22nd, 2020
- Black Lives Matter 757 organizing toy drive and distribution - WAVY.com - December 22nd, 2020
- Black Lives Matter Protests Spur Creation of Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice - Rutgers Today - December 22nd, 2020
- Asking the Clergy: Black Lives Matter movement and Kwanzaa - Newsday - December 22nd, 2020
- Black Lives Matter Backlash: The NYPD's War on Protesters Intensifies - The Indypendent - December 22nd, 2020
- Year in Review: How Black Lives Matter Inspired a New Generation of Youth Activists - Rolling Stone - December 17th, 2020
- In 2021, we must show that Black Lives Matter beyond diversity theater - Fast Company - December 17th, 2020
- Why Black Lives Matter: African American thriving for the twenty-first century - Religion News Service - December 17th, 2020
- Six months after mass protests began, what is the future of BLM? - The Economist - December 17th, 2020
- The City of Portland Fines a Building Owner for Oversized Black Lives Matter Sign - Willamette Week - December 17th, 2020
- Maria Casely-Hayford on Black Lives Matter: It is a cultural wake-up call such as Ive never seen before - British GQ - December 17th, 2020
- Fact check: Story about United Airlines, Black Lives Matter and a toddler is satirical - USA TODAY - December 17th, 2020
- Black Lives Matter and the Color of the Public Square - Religion & Politics - December 17th, 2020
- 2020 Best of the Beat Forsyth County Edition: Black Lives Matter - Triad City Beat - December 17th, 2020
- Organizer of Black Lives Matter mural in Florence requests that the city does not remove it - WBTW - December 17th, 2020
- What's Happened To Charlotte's Black-Owned Businesses In The Wake Of COVID-19 And BLM Movement? - WFAE - September 26th, 2020
- Youth Spotlight Column: Black lives matter in the hearts of Ipswich Students - The Local Ne.ws - September 26th, 2020
- Back the Blue, Black Lives Matter rallies meet on Clinton Street - The Ithaca Voice - September 26th, 2020
- Black Lives Matter's Goal to 'Disrupt' the Nuclear Family Fits a Marxist Aim That Goes Back a Century and a Half | Jon Miltimore - Foundation for... - September 26th, 2020
- Letter to the editor: If you don't agree that Black lives matter, you are racist - Summit Daily News - September 26th, 2020
- The sheriff's race pitting Trump against Black Lives Matter - NBC News - September 26th, 2020
- 4 Things the Liberal Media Wont Tell You About Black ... - September 4th, 2020
- You're Being Duped: Black Lives Matter Founder Admits "We ... - September 4th, 2020
- Here's What Black Lives Matter Leaders' Ultimate Goal Is - September 4th, 2020
- Black Lives Matter Just Entered Its Next Phase - The Atlantic - September 4th, 2020
- Back the Blue and Black Lives Matter protests face off in Danvers - Boston Herald - September 4th, 2020
- Utah police union accuses teachers of 'political indoctrination' by supporting Black Lives Matter movement in class - Salt Lake Tribune - September 4th, 2020
- Mayor one-ups Black Lives Matter rally with his own plans - ABC News - September 4th, 2020
- Webster Groves neighbors mailed anonymous letter asking them to remove Black Lives Matter signs - KMOV.com - September 4th, 2020
- Man arrested after carrying AR-15 near Black Lives Matter protests in Vermont - NBC News - September 4th, 2020
- How to be an ally for Black lives - Medical News Today - September 4th, 2020
- Black Lives Don't Matter to Black Lives Matter, Says Rudy Giuliani - Mother Jones - August 28th, 2020
- 'Black Lives Matter' mural to be painted along Grace Street in Downtown - Richmond Free Press - August 28th, 2020
- NHLs lack of solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests out of touch, say critics - News 1130 - August 28th, 2020