#BlackLivesMatter still matters


The Black Lives Matter movement began with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in 2013, after the death of Trayvon Martin. He was a Black teen who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a then 28-year-old white or Hispanic man while coming home from a convenience store with a bag of Skittles and a bottle of Arizona in hand.

Following a string of burglaries in the neighborhood, Zimmerman – a captain of the local neighborhood patrol in Twin Lakes, Fla., and wannabe cop  –  claimed he found Martin suspicious and chased the unarmed teen down. This began an altercation between the two and ended in the death of the then 17-year-old Martin.

Initially, the police chose not to arrest Zimmerman, and this sparked outrage within the media and the black community alike. Many protests were held all around the country in support of Martin, as well as debates regarding racial profiling within our population and in law enforcement.

Zimmerman was taken into custody and charged with second-degree murder. In response, he pleaded not guilty, resulting in an extensive trial in which Zimmerman was later acquitted, sparking more conversation within the public eye.

Three women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, established the BLM movement. Following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s killer in 2013, it first surfaced as a hashtag (#BlackLivesMatter). In a Facebook post, Garza first utilized the word to express her frustration and empathy towards the Black community. Along with Garza, community organizer Cullors, and human rights advocate Tometi turned the movement from a simple hashtag into a potent platform for activism. 

Its early days marked a critical turning point in the ongoing struggle for racial justice, igniting a national conversation and inspiring a new generation of activists to actively challenge systemic racism in America.

During 2020, at the height of the pandemic, the BLM movement erupted when a video was released online of a white Minneapolis police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man. In the video, Floyd could be heard saying, “I can’t breathe”. These words were later echoed by BLM protestors throughout the nation.

There have been many cases of racial injustice inflicted on the black community throughout history, such as the Rodney King case and the cases of Breonna Taylor and Michael Brown. But, with the increase in the use of social media, many more cases have been brought to life, creating a more prominent voice for those most impacted by these injustices.

Since then, the BLM movement has risen strongly to stand against racial profiling within the judicial system as well as to advocate for the end of police brutality and systematic racism. Along with improved policies, the BLM movement has also led many people to become involved in local and national campaigns aimed at addressing issues related to racial justice and police reform.

While the goal of the movement is to oppose racism and anti-black violence, many believe that the movement has proven to be problematic due to its extreme forms of protest and the promotion of anti-police ideologies.

Although the BLM movement may have its faults, ultimately it has proven to be successful as it has shaped public discourse and policies for the better.

For example, several cities and states have implemented police reform measures such as banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants, and some police departments have adopted community policing initiatives.

By differentiating those few that harm the movement from the many that improve it, we can lessen the stigma of the BLM movement and recognize the underlying issues of systemic racism and police brutality that the movement seeks to address.

In short, it isn’t right to automatically label the BLM movement as “bad,” but by engaging in constructive dialogue and debate around its goals, tactics, and impact, we can work towards a more just and equitable society.