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Black Lives Matter: In Conversation
In February 2012, an unarmed African-American high-school student, Trayvon Martin, was shot dead in Sanford, Florida. His death was a flashpoint in American race relations, sparking protests across the United States and the beginning of a totally new kind of civil-rights movement: #blacklivesmatter.
The movement – founded by Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza – fights for justice and dignity for black people. Diffuse, inclusive and multifaceted, #blacklivesmatter has built momentum online and, crucially, on the ground. Its activists have enjoyed wins in court rooms, in the media, on the streets and in Barack Obama’s White House. The message has resonated across the globe, with large turnouts for rallies not just across the US but also in Brazil, Australia, South Africa and other countries.
In Australia to collect the Sydney Peace Prize, two of Black Lives Matter’s founders and leaders – Cullors, and Toronto BLM Chapter co-founder Rodney Diverlus – talk with Jack Latimore about the achievements and broader goals of #blacklivesmatter … and how we can translate the lessons of the movement to face and fight entrenched inequality for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia (with whom they've spent significant amounts of time ahead of this conversation).
Among other topics, they discuss the importance of sustained activism, inclusive and nuanced ideas of 'blackness', and an empowering movement unconstrained by national borders or charismatic leadership.
(Note: This podcast episode contains a discussion of online abuse, which includes strong language.)
Patrisse Cullors is an artist, organiser, freedom fighter, Fulbright scholar, public speaker, and NAACP History Maker from Los Angeles, California.
Rodney Diverlus is an organiser, dancer, and choreographer/curator. Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Rodney first moved to the United States as a refugee, but ended his migration journey in Toronto, Canada. There his work is anchored an artivist framework of transformative art and community organising practice.
In 2014, Rodney co-founded Black Lives Matter – Toronto, the first international iteration of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. As a lead chapter organiser, Rodney's works clusters on campaign development, communications and media relations, action coordination, and internal chapter management. BLMTO is a force in shifting public policy, implementing legislative changes, and challenging the cultural myth of Canadian benevolence as means of masking systemic anti-Black racism.
Jack Latimore is an Indigenous researcher with the Centre for Advancing Journalism. He is currently involved in the development of several projects aimed at improving the quality of Indigenous representation and participation in the mainstream media-sphere. His journalism work has appeared in Koori Mail, Guardian Australia, Overland and IndigenousX.
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