Black Lives Matter has gathered momentum as a movement for change and social evolution but a lot of people out there are probably still unsure as to what exactly it is. So in this article I will outline the movement and explain what it believes, stands for and what it hopes to achieve.
So, what is Black Lives Matter?
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old teenager that was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. Since then the Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc has been formed and is now a global organization in the US, UK and Canada whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and create equality between black and white people. By standing up to acts of violence, fighting for equality for black people so that they can share equal rights with everyone, they are demanding immediate improvements in our world.
Recently, the movement exploded into the public consciousness when George Floyd, a 46-year-old father was killed by the white police officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on George’s neck for 9 minutes. Eventually, George died, causing a massive uproar in the US community and protests in many cities inspired by Black Lives Matter. These protests seek to expose the inequality spreading throughout the US and mainly the world and are calls for action. People have been discriminated against for their skin colour, their religion, their gender and their wealth and the movement looks to raise awareness of this and create the will for change.
Though there have been various movements which renowned politicians and significant figures as figureheads racial inequality continues to persist. The Stone Rebellion in the 1700s, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the 1800s, the era of Martin Luther King followed by the election of Barack Obama in the 2000s all promised decisive action to bridge this inequality; however, it still exists today. Despite the many movements that people have started, generations later, still the typical black family has just 1/10 the wealth of the average white family. There is still a massive gap in the lifestyle of the average white person and the average black person and a huge difference in the way both are perceived by the wider world in terms of the way they are treated..
Who were the people who fought for equality? Who were the people that risked their lives for a better world?
Nelson Mandela was a social rights activist, politician and philanthropist who became South Africa’s first Black president. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for leading anti-apartheid movements and ending the segregation between the blacks and the whites. Upon his release from prison, he was elected as President of South Africa and brought on the transition from minority rule to Black majority rule. During his presidency, he altered racism in South Africa and worked to try and bring it back to equality. Mandela is a significant figure in the history of the struggle to bring equality in the globe and has made many sacrifices for the better of the world. Mandela is a role model that nobody will ever forget.
Martin Luther King Jr was a social activist and Baptist minister who played a key role in the American civil rights movement from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. His famous Letter From Birmingham Jail spelt out his theory of non-violence. In Washington, the Lincoln Memorial was where King made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, emphasizing his belief that someday all men could be brothers. "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character." — Martin Luther King, Jr. / "I Have A Dream" speech, August 28, 1963.
What do we have to do to then to bring an end to inequality? There are many individuals who have fought for equality and made huge sacrifices, there are people like Nelson Mandela who are willing to risk their lives for us but no matter how many individual heroes you have, it will not create the world that Martin Luther King dreamed of.
Everybody needs to stand up and fight to banish discrimination. We need to create a culture and a world that will provide equal chances for all and where people will not be judged on their skin colour, religion and gender but by their talent, their character and their effort.