Issue 4.1 Johnette Williams


What is #BLM? A question that is frequently asked all over the world. The words stand for the Black Lives Matter Movement but it means more than this. These words are the shield for many African-Americans today. It all started in 2013 and has grown so much over the course of 3 years. The progress of this movement relies on more than just the African-American community. It is built on the history of America and their African-American ancestors.


Black Lives Matter is a phrase used very often in our lives. It is seen, to many, as a modern day Civil Rights Movement because of the similarity of its views. However, BLM has shaped itself differently in today’s modern society. It all started in 2013 from a Facebook post regarding the unjust killing of seventeen-year old, Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman, who was charged with murdering Martin, was ultimately acquitted, which was a decision that shocked many. A woman named Alicia Garza posted a message to the African-American community, that sparked the ember of the movement. This movement also brought many other lives that were taken due to discrimination (such as Oscar Grant, who was killed in Fruitvale Bart Station in 2009) into prominence. Although the post started the movement, it didn’t spread it. The world was brought to the attention of these killings after the death of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown in 2014. A protest, in Ferguson, had started to show America what was happening to the African-American community. Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, friends of Alicia Garza, and Darnell Moore, an activist in Brooklyn, organized ‘freedom rides’ to get people to travel down to Ferguson to witness this turning point in the Black Lives Matter movement. The protest was started when the jury overseeing the case of Darren Wilson, the officer charged with Michael Brown’s death, ruled the verdict to be not guilty. This showed African-Americans everywhere that Barack Obama’s presidency didn’t represent change as much as they had anticipated. The change they longed for ended up being one that would undo the Civil Rights Movement if they sat idly by. The hashtag has not only spread the idea, but also encourages other hashtags like All Lives Matter and Brown Lives Matter. It has also allowed for an influx of new ideas about how the world should see African- Americans, not as one color but as an array of different colors, standing united.


“Hands up, no sudden movements” is a term young black kids know all too well. Mothers are afraid to let their kids go outside as they hear sirens. This movement allows the mothers and children to have a voice. The influx of poetry and protests are ways most people speak their thoughts about what’s happening in the world. These are used as blankets to save young black kids from growing scared and unaware of the world they are living in. At a young age, most black or African-American kids are taught to be afraid of cops, which in turn gives the cops power. Today, some cops abuse that power and unjustly kill them. Poetry is known as a form of freedom. It has no rules, allowing people to speak against the police officers that abuse their power and educate people who act ignorant towards the matter.  Freequency, Porsha O., Real T@lk, and many others are poets that continue to share their ideas. This movement doesn’t solely focus on black lives, but also on women’s rights and gender equality. This movement is the basis that will change the way people think about certain things in the future. Protests also contribute to educating young kids today. The protests are nonviolent and show similarities to the walk to Selma. These protests educated the people about the injustices that women, African-Americans, and the LGBTQ community experienced. Equality is a word with an open ended definition that the world hasn’t fully used. The Black Lives Matter Movement is bringing this word and using it to its potential.


“Don’t shoot”. A slogan written on protest signs. The Black Lives Movement is just beginning and the changes it has created in the US aren’t done. The shootings of unarmed black men are continuing in many states as well. The protests, news articles, and poems take these shootings and amplify them, giving the dead a voice to educate the living. In these times, equality for all should not just be a term, but also a truth.

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