#BlackLivesMatter co-founder speaks on campus

Patrisse Cullors

Patrisse Cullors / Marc Studer photo 

Reacting on social media to the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, Alicia Garza wrote the words “black lives matter.” Patrisse Cullors put a hashtag on it — #BlackLivesMatter — and turned a moment into a movement. 

“I saw those three words and, like, that’s it! It was almost divine, and I put a hashtag in front of it,” Cullors told an audience Sept. 27 at the University of Washington Bothell. 

“Alicia was like, what’s that? And I was like, that’s going to make this thing go viral,” Cullors said. “Literally within two days we were talking about building out a political project.”  

Garza, Cullors and Opal Tometi built out Black Lives Matter from a social media hashtag into a global network with 40 chapters in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. 

“It became a new iteration of black people fighting, resisting and choosing our lives and choosing our destiny,” Cullors told students, faculty and staff in the Activities and Recreation Center. “Black Lives Matter has become this moment in history where we can have an honest and transparent conversation about anti-black racism.“ 

Alyssa King, Patrisse CullorsCullors’ talk was introduced by UW Bothell student Alyysa King, president of the Black Student Union, who also moderated a question-and-answer session. 

“Having someone who’s been in the fight, who’s still part of that, is very inspiring,” said King, a senior with a double major in Law, Economics and Public Policy, and Global Studies, minor in Human Rights. 

Alyysa King, Patrisse Cullors / Marc Studer photo 

Cullors is a Los Angeles organizer and author whose book, “When They Call You a Terrorst,” written with Asha Bandele, is the Community Reads book for autumn quarter at the University of Washington Bothell / Cascadia College Campus Library. Everyone on campus is invited to read the book and join in a discussion Nov. 6, 12-1:30 p.m. in the library, room LB1-205. 

Cullors’ appearance was sponsored by UW Bothell’s Student Engagement & Activities, the Student Diversity Center, the Diversity Council and the Community Engagement Council. 

“I think Patrisse’s work exemplifies the values we have on this campus,” said Sam Al-Khoury, director of Student Engagement & Activities. “I hope this sets a tone for the year about how we choose to engage in some really important work.” 

Wayne Au, interim chief diversity officer and dean of diversity and equity, said it was important to bring a global leader and role model such as Cullors to campus. 

“I think it symbolically shows UW Bothell’s commitment to creating a campus culture that treats issues like racial justice seriously,” Au said.