This article was written by Alicia Garza and originally posted at thefeministwire.com.
Black Lives Matter! This has become the central slogan of the massive upsurge of rage, protest and resistance that has shaken this country in recent months. We are reposting this important article about the origins of the slogan because we don’t want to see it lost in the swelling ocean of post-Ferguson commentary.
The slogan itself is brilliant, an assertion of what is at the heart of this upsurge. It is an example of what our political tradition calls the Mass Line. The ideas of the people are gathered and concentrated into programs and slogans which the masses can then take up and apply.
Another thing about the Mass Line is that it is practiced by revolutionaries, people trying to change the world. The slogan did not fall from the sky. As the article details, it was developed by three young, queer African American women with deep roots in the struggle, in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin. They added the Twitter hash tag to spread it more broadly and make it a more useful organizing tool.
Black Lives Matter resonates because it not only responds to police murders but is a defiant rejection of the thousand and one forms of oppression, repression and devaluation experienced by Black people as part of “everyday life” under white supremacist bourgeois rule in this country.
I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.
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.Download this piece as a PDF