September 8, 2020 / Source: The Bizz USA
By Elizabeth Insuasti; Edited by Adya Kumar and Haarika Kalahasti
Black Lives Matter (BLM) was founded in 2013 after the murder of Trayvon Martin, an African american teenager who was unlawfully shot. It highlighted the dangers and discrimination black children, women and men face daily solely due to their race. This grassroots movement has been protesting against police violence and racism towards black people as well as advocating for policy changes to address racial injustice since that incident. Despite being active for the most of the decade, Black Lives Matter was recently put under the spotlight after the murder of George Floyd by the police alarmed the world.
While there is still plenty of work to be done to achieve lasting social justice, the main goals of BLM co-founder, Melina Abdullah, seems to be coming to fruition as tens of thousands of people around the globe have taken to the streets to support the movement’s message.
“People all over the country and the world are recognizing that they have to plug in,” says Abdullah. “We have all got to be engaged in the transformative work that's taking place.
“One of my greatest hopes when we first initiated Black Lives Matter,” she goes on, “[is] that we become a mass movement. As we become a mass movement, we have the capacity to again fundamentally transform the world that we live in.”
More than 40 percent of counties in the United States have had protests, enumerating to at least 1,360. Unlike with past Black Lives Matter protests, nearly 95 percent of the counties that have recently had protests are majority white. The immense change that the protests have been able to encourage in such a short period of time is utterly remarkable. In Minneapolis, the City Council pledged to dismantle its police department. In New York, lawmakers repealed a law that kept police disciplinary records secret. Cities and states across the country passed new laws banning chokeholds. In Mississippi, lawmakers voted to redesign their state flag, which displayed a Confederate battle emblem.
Today, national news cameras have fled from the scene, which makes it hard for the general public to recognize that protests are still actively occurring throughout America. In Louisville, hundreds of protesters persist to punish the police officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death. Protesters have engaged in a number of large-scale public actions, from converging on the steps of the state’s capitol building to disrupting a mayoral press conference to hosting “blackout” marches.The scale of action is similar in other cities across the country, including Minneapolis, New York City, Sartell, Washington DC, and Keystone, where multiple demonstrations happen every day.
The Instagram account @JusticeforGeorgeNYC, which is based in New York, lists a collection of daily rallies, marches, protests, and vigils for Black people who have lost their lives to police brutality. Activists recognize how much has changed in public opinion since the first Floyd protests — and that’s why they haven’t stopped organizing.
According to a Black Lives Matter representative, protests have taken place every day in Minneapolis since Floyd’s fatal arrest. “The occupation of ‘George Floyd Ave,’ the place where he was murdered, is an act of resilience or a protest. We have been occupying that space every day since George Floyd was lynched. Folks are protesting for change in the simplest terms,” the representative said. “Folks are protesting for Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, and Dominique Fells. Folks are protesting against police brutality and state-sanctioned violence and for interpersonal violence against Black trans women. Folks are out protesting for Black lives.”
Every day, BLM protesters commit to healing one another and to co-creating a culture alongside comrades, allies, and family where each person feels seen, heard, and supported. The purpose of this fight is to acknowledge, respect, and celebrate all differences and commonalities. We must work diligently for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension, all people.
What is the future of BLM? This future is indeterminate, due to the fact of the outbreak of the global pandemic. However, history shows just how persistent and strong we are when we are united with a common goal. Despite the challenges black lives face in this country, justice will prevail. The impact this movement has had on the world, in 2020 alone, is proof of how powerful fighting for justice can be.
To this day, those who are new to the movement are attending online seminars and gatherings that educate people on the issue, and the amount of supporters continues to grow exponentially. This momentum is strong and will not subside until more reforms and racial equity are reached. Only until Black lives matter, all lives will matter.