Every June 1 marks the start of Black Lives Matter Month, an opportunity for all Americans to make a stand against racism and racially-motivated violence. Founded as a hashtag in 2013, Black Lives Matter has grown into thousands of decentralized chapters advocating for equality and justice for the Black community, and protesting against violence against black people at the hands of law enforcement.
Arguably one of the largest protest movements in the country today, its numbers and influence have swelled as a result of the global outcry over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officers in May of 2020.
History of Black Lives Matter Month
The Black Lives Matter movement began as a social media response to an acquittal in the 2013 shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. The acquittal sparked outrage around the country leading to mass demonstrations against racially-motivated injustice and racism among law enforcement.
Initially begun as the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter and circulated by three black community organizers in Los Angeles, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and Opal Tometi, Black Lives Matter has grown into a global movement for racial equality, justice, anti-racism, and anti-violence against black people by law enforcement.
In August of 2014, the BLM movement organized its first large-scale protest in response to the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. The Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride consisted of more than 500 members participating in non-violent demonstrations.
Since that initial August 2014 protest, the decentralized and largely non-violent civil rights movement has been a central figure in the public responses to the unlawful killing of black people by law enforcement. Among the most notable are the 2014 killings of Akai Gurley and Eric Garner by members of the New York Police Department and now the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by four Minneapolis Police Officers.
In May 2020, the killings of Breonna Taylor by Louisville police while she slept in her bed and Ahmaud Arbery while peacefully jogging through a Georgia neighborhood brought attention to violence against black people. But it was the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Officer that captured the nation’s attention. One officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. The act, which was filmed and released globally, sparked hundreds of demonstrations around the globe. Nearly every major U.S. city and even some smaller towns have had demonstrations organized and influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement. All four officers have been charged.