07 Sep Movement for Black Lives Surges
By Dennis Ojogho
Following the police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile in early July, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has experienced another power surge.
Actor and activist Jesse Williams amplified Black Lives Matter in his powerful acceptance speech at the BET awards that screened on millions of television screens and subsequently went viral on social media.
“Yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday. So I don’t want to hear any more about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on a 12-year-old playing alone in the park,” Williams said.
Williams is not the only celebrity to take on the mantle of BLM this summer. Four of professional basketball’s most recognizable figures—Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James—invoking the spirit of activist-athletes of yore like Muhammad Ali and Jim Brown, stood side by side to call on athletes to answer the call for social justice at this year’s ESPY Awards.
The country’s largest labor federation has also jumped aboard: “This is a la- Movement for Black Lives Surges labor issue because it is a workplace issue; it is a community issue, and unions are the community. Philando Castile was a union member, and so his family is our family,” said Richard Trumka, President of AFL-CIO, in a public statement in support of Black Lives Matter.
Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the country’s largest environmental organization, also released a statement in early July in solidarity with BLM: “It is impossible to not be outraged by the devastating images of black people being gunned down by police on a shockingly regular basis and it should be impossible to remain silent in the face of this sustained injustice any longer.”
Even the assassination of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge and the Blue Lives Matter slogan championed by Donald Trump has not prevented the movement’s growth.
While leaders are carrying the message of BLM to mass audiences, thousands have been staging demonstrations against racism and police violence across the nation, and across the world. Black Lives Matter UK blocked the entrance to the Heathrow Airport on Aug. 5 calling for accountability for the murder of 29-year old Black man.
In late July, Canadians rallied together in Ottawa only days after a 37-year Black male died during an altercation with police. Black Lives Matter activists have been protesting in Rio during the Olympics, calling for Brazilian officials to be accountable for state violence.
In addition, on Aug. 1 the Movement for Black Lives issued its first policy platform, laying a powerful basis for the movement’s further expansion. It contains six core planks around criminal justice, reparations, investment and divestment, economic justice, community control and political power.
“There is an entirely new generation of Black people on the front lines for justice and dignity and respect for Black people,” said Patrice Cullors, one of the BLM founders on the growth of the movement.