#BlackLivesMatter is not a new movement (it was founded in 2013 after the death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by a self-appointed neighbourhood watchman), but it is one that has gained unprecedented global momentum in recent weeks.
The death of African-American man George Floyd, who died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe, has catapulted the movement into a new phase of activity against racism and police killings of black Americans.
As a result, people from all over the world have united to partake in protests, donate to relevant causes and educate each other on racial inequality. From former President Barack Obama, to teens on TikTok, here are 20 of the most powerful messages, quotes and images to come out of the Black Lives Matter movement.
1. Opal Tometi
View this post on Instagram
I’ve written many an op-ed, led many advocacy campaigns, met and cried with a number of families who’ve had their loved ones taken from them by death, prison or deportation. It never gets easier. I sometimes joke with friends about “retiring”. And largely, when I say things like that, it’s because I don’t get numb. There’s a type of pain that can’t be masked. And despite the commonalities in how injustice plays out in our lives, each life is just so unique and sacred. Anywho, I don’t have a lot to say. I’ve said a whole lot in the 7 years since BLM started. And like you, I’m just profoundly sad and angry. In the last day or so, I had a lot more people than usual reach out to check on me. I really appreciate that. Let’s continue to check in, and show up for each other and show up for ALL Black lives. I just love us so much and want a lot for each of us. #BreonnaTaylor #GeorgeFloyd #BigFloyd #BlackLivesMatter
In an interview with The New Yorker, Opal Tometi, one of the original co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement explained why this time is so different. “My belief and my view of these protests is that they are different because they are marked by a period that has been deeply personal to millions of Americans and residents of the United States, and that has them more tender or sensitive to what is going on. People who would normally have been at work now have time to go to a protest or a rally, and have time to think about why they have been struggling so much, and they are thinking, this actually isn’t right and I want to make time, and I have the ability to make time now and make my concerns heard,” part of the interview read.
2. Desiree Barnes
WATCH: ‘You are here profiting off of our f*cking pain!’ — Desiree Barnes slammed people for looting low-income neighborhoods and destroying resources residents need
Posted by NowThis Politics on Tuesday, 2 June 2020
In some places, peaceful protests have given way to rioting, stealing and violence. Desiree Barnes, who worked for former first lady Michelle Obama and as a White House press aide for Barack Obama, has issued a brutal message to those looting low-income neighbourhoods and destroying resources residents need.
3. How To Survive In America
This teen shared 16 points his mother taught him to survive as a Black man in Americavia NowThis
Posted by NowThis Politics on Thursday, 4 June 2020
One teen took to TikTok to share the 16 points his mother taught him on how to survive as a black man in America including not being out too late and not putting your hands in your pockets.
4. Michelle Obama
View this post on Instagram
Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us. Artwork: @nikkolas_smith
Sharing portraits of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, whose senseless deaths are a stark reminder that racism and police brutality continues to be prevalent in America, Michelle Obama shared a statement online reminding everyone that this issue is not just up to people of colour to deal with. “It’s up to all of us – black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets.”
5. K-Pop Fans
K-Pop fans completely hijacking the #WhiteLivesMatter hashtag makes me so proud 🤣
— alexandra reid (@thealexreid) June 3, 2020
K-pop fans have taken it upon themselves to drown out a racist hashtag on social media by flooding it with clips of their favourite artists. The hashtag in question was originally filled with white-supremacist messages and nonsensical or anti-racist posts.
6. Meghan Markle
In a powerful video message to the graduating class of the Los Angeles high school she attended, the Duchess of Sussex called the events of the past week “absolutely devastating”, admitting she “wasn’t sure what to say” at first.
Related article: Madonna Joined A Black Lives Matter Protest In London On Crutches
7. New Zealand Haka
THIS! Literally just brought me to tears. This is so beautiful. Our Polynesian Brothers and Sisters doing their traditional Haka for Black Lives Matter in New Zealand. The world is coming together and it is so beautiful. #blacklivesmatter #georgefloyd #breonnataylor #ahmadarbery pic.twitter.com/8zLNeQJCmr
— Melany Centeno (@_NotISaidTheCat) June 1, 2020
In a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, demonstrators in New Zealand performed the haka (a traditional Māori war dance) outside the U.S. consulate in Auckland’s central business district. Although the haka is associated with war, it has also historically been used in peacetime, to welcome guests or demonstrate unity.
8. Barack Obama
Former president Barack Obama participated in a town hall on police violence with community leaders and activists via Zoom. The event was arranged by the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, an Obama Foundation organisation that supports boys and young men of colour and their communities. During his fifteen-minute statement, Obama acknowledged the work of protesters and organisers, but also called for action from citizens and local leaders. He also had a message of hope for young people of colour, saying they had witnessed too much violence. “I want you to know you matter, your lives matter, your dreams matter,” he said.
9. What If 2020 Isn’t Cancelled?
View this post on Instagram
“What if 2020 isn’t cancelled? What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow. A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber. A year we finally accept the need for change. Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart. 2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather the most important year of them all.” 🖤
A social media post by Leslie Dwight has taken over social media feeds, even being shared by celebrities such as Mindy Kaling and Billie Eilish. Instead of feeling defeated by the harsh realities of 2020, Dwight is offering another perspective on the issues at hand. “What if 2020 is the year we’ve been waiting for? A year so uncomfortable, so painful, so scary, so raw — that it finally forces us to grow,” the post reads. “A year that screams so loud, finally awakening us from our ignorant slumber. A year we finally accept the need for change. Declare change. Work for change. Become the change. A year we finally band together, instead of pushing each other further apart. 2020 isn’t cancelled, but rather the most important year of them all.”
10. Black Lives Matter Plaza
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and had the slogan painted on the asphalt in massive yellow letters, in response to Donald Trump’s militaristic crackdown on protesters.
11. Kamryn Johnson
Day 3: She is out here again. She woke me up to say she wanted to go outside. I honestly wanted her to take a break & rest but she is determined & I won’t hinder her progress one bit. My little bracelet warrior. #JusticeForFloyd #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #RestoreMinneapolis pic.twitter.com/t23AUTGHym
— Ron Johnson (@3RonJohnson) June 2, 2020
9-year-old Kamryn Johnson, daughter of former Gopher Football star Ron Johnson, has raised over US $25,000 in order to help those affected by the destructive riots in in Minneapolis by selling handmade bracelets with her friends.
12. John Boyega
— Star Wars (@starwars) June 3, 2020
Star Wars actor John Boyega has gave an emotional speech to demonstrators at a Black Lives Matter rally in London. “I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing,” Boyega said, while calling for peaceful protests. “We are a visible representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a visible representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a visible representation of our support for Trayvon Martin.”
Related article: Beyoncé Pays Tribute To Black Lives Matter In Commencement Speech
13. Billie Eilish
Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish took to Instagram to condemn the “All Lives Matter” movement, which has been used to invalidate the #BlackLivesMatter campaign. “If I hear one more white person say ‘aLL liVeS maTtEr’ one more f**king time, I’m gonna lose my f**king mind,” Eilish wrote. “Will you shut the f**k up? No one is saying your life is not hard. No one is saying literally anything at all about you. All you mfs do is find a way to make everything about yourself. This is not about you. Stop making everything about you. You are not in need. You are not in danger,” she continued.
14. Ballin’ For Justice
View this post on Instagram
APPRECIATE ALL THE LOVE ON THE PROJECT YALL! Like I said on Monday night, I just wanted to do something to spread love and bring people together the way I know how to best! I’ve been working on this project for the past year, hitting up cities with my hoop! Part one for the YT video from yesterday is dropping in 15 minutes! I have not slept yet haha… hope y’all enjoy! Ps best part of this clip…“You let her do that to you!” 😂 FORGOT TO DROP @brett.blackwell AND @stanmadephotos IN HERE TO SAY THANK YOU FOR SHOOTING VIDS ALL DAY AND CAPTURING EVERYTHING!!!
Philadelphia woman Stephania Ergemlidze is spreading love and bringing people together over basketball. The social media influencer and her friends have been hauling a basketball hoop around the city as a way to peacefully protest and unite both demonstrators and police officers over a common love for the game. “People needed this positivity,” Ergemlidze explained. “We need something to bring people together right now. I love Philly so much. For me to see like the city just completely torn apart is killing me inside. I wanted to find a way that I could bring some kind of light to the situation in my own way and unite everybody.” In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Philadelphia, along with other US cities, has experienced unrest and violent protests which have led to tense confrontations between demonstrators and police.
15. Ten Steps To Non-Optical Allyship
View this post on Instagram
Social media has been a bit overwhelming since I first put up this post so it has taken some time for me to post this. On Friday, I shared this content on Twitter after I felt the conversations online were like screaming into an echo chamber. I wanted to provide those who wanted to support and be an ally with practical tips to move forward and make a change in our society. I am still somewhat surprised and overwhelmed by the reception so please take patience with me at this time. — For a note on who I am to those who have followed me from Twitter, my name is Mireille. I'm an assistant editor and I do freelance writing, PR and sensitivity reading and other bits on the side. I am extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion, and everything I have shared is not new knowledge to me. From as far back as I can remember I've been campaigning, fighting for equality and supporting and working with black owned organisations. I have worked in the diversity and inclusion space for around four years and I have been equipped with knowledge, skills etc through that work as well as through wider, intensive reading and being raised by a Jamaican mother who has a degree in Women's Studies. I felt as a mixed race person who was emotionally capable despite the current situation that I could use my learned experience, skills and compassion to offer this advice to allies and anyone else who was seeking advice but didn't know where to turn. This is now on my stories as a highlight so please feel free to share from there or here. — A small reminder that this took emotional labour and POC, especially black people are not here to teach you everything. When I said ask how you can support, I meant on a personal level as a friend etc. I hope this toolkit provides you with the starter info you need but there are genuinely people more experienced than me who warrant your listening to – please go and follow @nowhitesaviors, @laylafsaad, @rachel.cargle, @ckyourprivilege, @iamrachelricketts, @thegreatunlearn, @renieddolodge, @ibramxk + a few more: @akalamusic, @katycatalyst + @roiannenedd who all have books or resources from many more years of experience. _
Writer and editor Mireille Cassandra Harper took to social media to share “10 Steps To Non-Optical Allyship”, an eloquent guide for white people to inform themselves on black culture during this time. The post, which has since gone viral, is required reading for anyone who wants to be an effective ally in the fight for equality and offers practical tips on how we can move forward and make a change in our society.
16. What Did You Do?
View this post on Instagram
I co-founded @reddit 15 years ago to help people find community and a sense of belonging. It is long overdue to do the right thing. I’m doing this for me, for my family, and for my country. I’m saying this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: What did you do? I have resigned as a member of the reddit board, I have urged them to fill my seat with a black candidate, and I will use future gains on my Reddit stock to serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate, and I’m starting with a pledge of $1M to @kaepernick7’s @yourrightscamp I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now. To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop.
Reddit co-founder and Serena William’s husband Alexis Ohanian has announced his resignation from the board of the social media site, and urged them to replace him with a black candidate. In a video statement, Ohanian said he made the decision for the sake of his daughter. “I’m writing this as a father who needs to be able to answer his black daughter when she asks: What did you do?” Ohanian explained. He also pledged to use future gains on his Reddit stock to “serve the black community, chiefly to curb racial hate,” while also donating US $1 million to Know Your Rights Camp, a non-profit started by former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick.
Related article: Sophie Turner And Joe Jonas Join Black Lives Matter Protest
17. Cupid Shuffle
Police in Lincoln, Nebraska have agreed to a “Hold Cops Accountable” initiative, which is aimed at improving community-police relations by connecting black community leaders and law enforcement on policing policies. In a celebration of the new initiative, which will include a monthly town meeting where citizens can raise their concerns and compliments regarding the Lincoln Police Department, officers and community members took to the streets to do the Cupid Shuffle.
18. White Privilege
Kyla Jenee Lacey first shared her poem on white privilege a few years ago at an open mic night in Houston, Texas. But given the events of the past few weeks, Lacey’s words have rightfully resurfaced. In a newly released video, the writer and activist takes an in-depth look at the privileges society yields to some and to whom it restricts. The video also serves as a humble dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement and the many victims of racial injustice.
19. Rahul Dubey
Rahul saved lives last night. He ended this with an inspirational speech about not giving up and keeping up the peaceful fight. What a guy. Thank you Rahul. #SwannStreet #savejenny pic.twitter.com/e0SETLcSpw
— BLACKLIVESMATTER (@kikivonfreaki) June 2, 2020
Washington DC resident Rahul Dubey opened his door and sheltered roughly 70 protesters fleeing arrest for a night after officers used pepper spray on them for breaking curfew. Curfews have been imposed in multiple cities across the U.S. with the aim of curbing violent protests. The protestors were leaving the White House, a site of intense protests, and were in the residential area of Swann Street when curfew began at 7pm. Surrounded by police officers, the group had nowhere else to go, so Dubey took them in and helped them tend to their burning eyes with milk and water before ordering pizza for everyone. By 6am, the protesters had organised a caravan of escorts so everyone could get home safely.
20. Jeff Bezos
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has issued a public pledge of support to the Black Lives Matter movement by sharing his response to an “offended” customer who wants Amazon’s homepage banner to say All Lives Matter instead of Black Lives Matter. The customer said it was “disturbing” to see the banner because “All lives matter,” adding, “If it wasn’t for all these lives providing their service to you and your company, where would Amazon be today?” In response, Bezos explained to the customer that, “‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t matter. Black lives matter speaks to racism and the disproportionate risk that Black people face in our law enforcement and justice system. I have a 20-year-old son, and I simply don’t worry that he might be choked to death while being detained one day. It’s not something I worry about. Black parents can’t say the same.” He finished by saying, “I want you to know I support this movement that we see happening all around us and my stance won’t change.”
- Ahmaud Arbery
- Alexis Ohanian
- Barack Obama
- Billie Eilish
- Black Lives Matter
- Breonna Taylor
- Colin Kaepernick
- Desiree Barnes
- George Floyd
- Jeff Bezos
- John Boyega
- Kamryn Johnson
- Kyla Jenee Lacey
- Leslie Dwight
- Meghan Markle
- Michelle Obama
- Mindy Kaling
- Mireille Cassandra Harper
- Muriel Bowser
- Opal Tometi
- Rahul Dubey
- Ron Johnson
- Serena William
- Stephania Ergemlidze