For many Americans, the Black Lives Matter movement — which was founded nearly eight years ago — has become the political, spiritual and cultural locus of the unheard. “The power of Black Lives Matter has really been about being able to both be a protest movement and a movement that’s deeply involved in politics,” Patrisse Cullors, one of the organization’s co-founders, told Yahoo News in an interview this month.
PATRISSE CULLORS: I believe Black Lives Matter is an imaginative freedom portal. And it allows us to dream our biggest dreams for not just Black people in this country but Black people around the world.
My name is Patrisse Cullors. And I am one of the cofounders of hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. And I’m also the executive director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. Black Lives Matter means something to me different every single day. I started #BlackLivesMatter before I had a child, and then I was pregnant during the rise of our movement in 2016. And then I have a four-year-old now.
And Black Lives Matter is so deeply personal. I am building and working towards a world that my child can live in freely, that he can feel all his imagination and his dreams, that they’re at his feet. And he won’t feel crushed by racism. And he won’t feel crushed by the pressures of patriarchy.
The Nobel Peace Prize nomination is beyond moving. We went from being called a terrorist organization to enemies of the state and now being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This nomination is a nomination for every single person, Black and non-Black, who took to the streets this summer, every single person who made Black Lives Matter their mission over the last 7 and 1/2 years. This Nobel Peace Prize is the people’s Nobel Peace Prize if we get it. And if we don’t get it, we get to say forever and ever that we were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
– Freedom! Freedom!
PATRISSE CULLORS: What we have seen, the power of Black Lives Matter has really been about being able to both be a protest movement and a movement that’s deeply involved in politics. We used protest for the last 6 and 1/2, 7 years to challenge the status quo, and then we spent our time getting people in office that we believe will stand up for Black Lives when they take their seats.
And Rep. Cori Bush, we love Rep. Cori Bush. She exemplifies what it means to be a leader, a protest leader, an organizer, and taking the seat and not stripping away where she came from. She continues to show up over and over again, reminding everybody that not only is she a Black proud woman but that she is from St. Louis and she represents the most marginalized people of St. Louis. And that is the kind of people we need in elected office.
PATRISSE CULLORS: Our biggest contribution has been shifting this culture and recognizing truly the level of white supremacist violence that has been at the center of this country. It’s how this country was built. And I think this last year of reckoning around race and patriarchy and class have really created a new foundation for us to argue why we must live in a world that is free from police, free from prisons, that we must live in a world that really does center abolition, center the care and dignity of human beings. And I’ll say that we have created the possibility for this country to finally reinvest into Black people and our neighborhoods and the communities that we come from.