Alicia Garza: Black Womyn Lives Matter

Experiences from within the Movement

Black Lives Matter activist Alicia Garza visited the Tufts Interfaith Center on Wednesday to touch on a number of issues related to the movement. In line with the title of the talk, Garza began by highlighting the history of police violence against black women and black transwomen. The black lives matter slogan and hashtag have become associated with black men due to the several highly publicized cases, and resulting non-indictments. She also emphasized that the movement is not new and not just a hashtag. Much of this can be found in an article, written by Garza, titled “A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement.”

The audience was led through a history of police violence in the speaker’s life, including the Rodney King beatings, trial, and ensuing riots, as well as the murder of Oscar Grant a few blocks from Garza’s house in Oakland. She cited the importance of video recording in these cases, the only reason honest recountings of these events were ever able to come out to the public.

Garza related the history of police and police violence to the history of slavery in America, and made connections between indigenous rights movements all over the world, from Colombia to South Africa, which have also held protests using the #BlackLivesMatter slogan. She sees the underlying theme of these global events as all resulting from neoliberalism and the protection of profitmaking ventures. Finally, she asked the audience to think about how voting at the national level can help propel the movement forward. How can a presidential candidate, also expected to protect neoliberal profitmaking entities, effect changes in police policy toward black communities. Implied in this was the importance to work at the local organizing level.

With the end of the semester approaching, it is important that the movement’s momentum can continue. Hopefully Tufts will be host to more events like this in order to keep the conversation going.