For me, seeking spirituality had a lot to do with trying to seek understanding about my conditions—how these conditions shape me in my everyday life and how I understand them as part of a larger fight, a fight for my life.
Black Lives Matter is our call to action. It is a tool to reimagine a world where black people are free to exist, free to live. It is a tool for our allies to show up differently for us. I grew up in a neighborhood that was heavily policed. I witnessed my brothers and my siblings continuously stopped and frisked by law enforcement. I remember my home being raided. And one of my questions as a child was, why? Why us? Black Lives Matter offers answers to the why. It offers a new vision for young black girls around the world that we deserve to be fought for, that we deserve to call on local governments to show up for us.
We have to invest in black leadership. That's what I've learned the most in the last few years... What we've seen is thousands of black people showing up for our lives with very little infrastructure and very little support. I think our work as movement leaders isn't just about our own visibility but rather how do we make the whole visible. How do we not just fight for our individual selves but fight for everybody? And I also think leadership looks like everybody in this audience showing up for black lives. It's not just about coming and watching people on a stage, right? It's about how do you become that leader -- whether it's in your workplace, whether it's in your home -- and believe that the movement for black lives isn't just for us, but it's for everybody.
I am hopeful for black futures. And I say that because we live in a society that's so obsessed with black death. We have images of our death on the TV screen, on our Twitter timelines, on our Facebook timelines, but what if instead we imagine black life? We imagine black people living and thriving. And that -- that inspires me.
That’s what you want; you want your radical demands to become popular...Then they become actionable, and then your elected officials won’t feel as scared to pass something like stopping a $3.5 billion jail because, hey, everybody else is saying the idea of caging thousands of human beings who have mental-health issues isn’t a good idea anymore.
After the shooting death of Michael Brown Jr. by officer Darren Wilson in 2014, a Freedom Ride to Ferguson, Missouri, came together. Cullors, writing with co-organizer Darnell L. Moore in The Guardian that September, described the bus ride with 40 others in the spirit of the Freedom Rides across the segregated South during the early 1960s as “a tangible example of self-determination in the face of anti-black violence on the part of Ferguson residents and those of us who traveled from across the country to join them.”