Black Lives Matter is a worldwide collective of activists, local groups and networks campaigning for an end to systemic and structural racism.
Mission and Purpose
Co-founded in the USA by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, Black Lives Matter is a movement for racial equality, the end of police brutality against African Americans, and the dismantling of international oppression of Black people. The movement employs multiple methods of deliberation and engagement, including activism that takes place primarily online, to offline protesting, community organizing, and promoting political participation to realize racial justice.
Origins and Development
Issues of violence toward young Black men and institutional racism within the United States’ criminal justice system were heightened with the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old African American, and the subsequent acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch coordinator for his gated community who fatally shot Martin while the young man was visiting his relatives. News of the event and the people involved circulated quickly online, fueling community tensions and leading to widespread protests and accusations that the United States’ criminal justice system is fundamentally biased against people of color, especially Black males .
Outraged at Zimmerman's 2013 acquittal of Martin's death, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag across online social networks. Remaining largely unnoticed for several months, the hashtag was finally taken up by millions of Internet users as the murders of unarmed African Americans continued. What began as a hashtag soon grew to a broader movement—first, in the United States and then internationally. In 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement—now distinct from the hashtag—initiated an urgent, national call to action and dialogue on the issue of police killings of unarmed African American youth. BLM broke into the mainstream, gaining millions of supporters and followers internationally after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson sparked reported civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri .
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
Black Lives Matter is not a centralized organization, but describes itself as a collective and a global network . Officially, the movement is registered as the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Inc. Some confusion occurred in 2020 when the BLM movement was conflated with the Black Lives Matter Foundation, an entirely separate and unconnected charity in the US.
Specializations, Methods and Tools
Black Lives Matter primarily utilizes social media and protests, as well as lobbying, petitioning, and awareness raising around police brutality, systemic racism, and racial disparities.
Major Projects and Events
Black Lives Matter is the driving force behind the social movement Black Lives Matter, and has played a leading role in the George Floyd protests.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Want to contribute an analysis of this organization? Help us complete this section!
 Blackpast. (2017). Black Lives Matter : the growth of a new social justice movement. Available at: http://www.blackpast.org/perspectives/black-lives-matter-growth-new-social-justice-movement (Accessed 16 July 2017).
 Black Lives Matter. (2020). Six Years Strong. Available at: https://blacklivesmatter.com/six-years-strong/ (Accessed 17 June 2020).
This entry is based on the case entry for Black Lives Matter, originally written by Isadora Borges Monroy in 2017.