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A 3-word phrase that hit the internet in July of 2013 would quickly become the rallying cry for millions of Black millennials. At the center of #BlackLivesMatter and the worldwide movement it would soon inspire, is a queer woman of color from California -- Alicia Garza.
Alicia Garza had been an activist for over 10 years before BLM. Her early work in reproductive rights expanded over time to economic justice, students’ rights, and police brutality. Garza served as executive director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights and special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
She’s known for her nimbleness in organizing. “If we can just imagine that some of the toughest problems we're facing might require us not to be sledgehammers, but to be like water and move around, through, over, and under, I wonder how that might change our relationships to each other.”
She's credited for coining the term 'Black Lives Matter' after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in 2013. Following the murder of Trayvon Martin, she wrote in a Facebook post, "I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter... Our lives matter." Black Lives Matter co-founders Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors then shared her post with the new hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
stop saying we are not surprised. that's a damn shame in itself. I continue to be surprised at how little Black lives matter. And I will continue that. stop giving up on black life. Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.
From the beginning, Black Lives Matter has been about centering LGBTQ voices and with the three little words, a queer woman of color ignited a worldwide movement born out of digital activism.