Starting tomorrow Black Lives Matter (BLM) takes a more physical presence on Northwestern’s campus. Norris, in conjunction with a group of student groups, has worked to bring “Black Lives Matter, a Northwestern Dialogue” to fruition.The event, marked with two weeks of continuous programming BLM is meant to educate and make prominent an issue the Northwestern masses tend to ignore. To prepare for all the coming weeks it is important to look back at the “whos” and “whys” behind the movement.
During the summer of 2012, George Zimmerman was found not guilty for the murder of Trayvon Martin, a Black 17-year-old. During the trial, Martin’s life was heavily investigated and he became villainized, while Zimmerman was not held accountable for his actions. Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, three queer Black women, created the #BlackLivesMatter Organization as a response to Zimmerman’s acquittal and anti-Black racism that is prevalent throughout society.
#BlackLivesMatter’s definition and purpose is outlined on their official website as follows, “Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.” It is important to note that the founders of the organization intend for the movement to validate all Black lives, including women, queer, trans, and disabled Black people.
The organization’s website lists thirty-seven #BlackLivesMatter chapters nation-wide, along with one international chapter, in Toronto, Canada. The organization and its chapters host days of action, teach-ins, panel discussions, Twitter chats and more. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is, arguably, most often in the news for facilitating protests and demonstrations in some of the nation’s largest cities. The organization’s largest protests have often been in response to events of police brutality against Black individuals. In 2016, a few of those large protests/demonstrations were held across the nation in response to the police shootings of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and Delrawn Smalls.
BLM is also active in the nation’s political realm. During the 2016 election cycle, #BlackLivesMatter activists were present and voiced their concerns at Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump rallies. More recently, in response to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory, #BlackLivesMatters activists held protests around the nation and there are plans to protest Trump’s inauguration. This movement effectively sparked conversation surrounding the blatant disregard for Black lives in the nation, and it has effectively brought people together in order to, according to their website, “(re)build the Black liberation movement.”
At Northwestern, some students feel that it is time that the #BlackLivesMatter Organization has more of a physical presence on campus. In order to create this physical presence special programming will occur every day for the next two weeks. This programming will be hosted in conjunction with student groups and Norris University Center. Organizers want these two weeks of programming to educate more people on campus about what the #BlackLivesMatter movement is and what the hashtag means on a deeper level. Make sure to stay on the lookout for more information regarding the events planned for the upcoming two weeks.