Whether you first encountered #BlackLivesMatter recently on social media, heard the phrase from protestors on the streets, or listened to it coming out of the mouths of presidential hopefuls, the founders of the hashtag-turned-movement have been doing this for a long time.
Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi reside in Los Angeles, Oakland, and in Brooklyn, New York, but their work is hardly static or even new. Aside from #BlackLivesMatter, the organizers continue to work in distinct — but parallel — initiatives to amplify the voices of less-heard populations, from undocumented immigrants to incarcerated youth.
As Fun Fearless 50 honorees who inspire us, Cullors, Garza, and Tometi spoke with Cosmopolitan about what inspires them to push for change — and challenge ideas about what change actually looks like.
#BlackLivesMatter might have been many people's introduction to each of you and the work that you do, but can you all discuss your other work and what inspired you to come together?
Cullors: I'm actually the truth and reinvestment director at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which is located in Oakland, California. My passion is really about looking at the impacts of policing on black communities in particular as well as the impacts incarceration has on black communities. I got into this work because I was deeply impacted by the police system and the world of incarceration. I witnessed my family members in and out of jail, I witnessed a lot of state violence, and this movement saved my life.
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