Since widespread mass protests erupted in Ferguson last year in response to the police killing of Michael Brown, Black Lives Matter, and the movement it has inspired, has shifted the national conversation about police brutality and racism in the United States. Ongoing protests, organizing and online activism have energized a new generation of Black leaders and activists. And yet, police brutality and police killings of people of color continue to rise. The police have killed over 900 people this year, but they are only indicted for these killings 1 percent of the time.
Mainstream media has covered the deaths, but consistently ignored the organizing and the lives of those affected directly by state violence. It has also refused to cover the fundamental work and powerful leadership of Black women, trans folk, youth, media activists, mothers and immigrants have played, and continue to play in the movement.
Who are the organizers? What are their stories? Their struggles? What obstacles have they come across? What are their visions for the future? How are they organizing against state violence and anti-Black racism?
The goal of this book is to answer these questions. To go beyond the media hype, to get to the heart of the burgeoning Black Lives Matter movement, to document and to share the voices of the founders, leaders and the organizers themselves, who will share their histories as well as visions for the future of their movement.
This book will serve as a snapshot of this growing movement and provide a framework that can be a guide for Black people and other communities of color struggling against state sanctioned violence. The Black Lives Matter movement has evolved and transformed its tactics. This book will discuss the larger issues of Black liberation, Black organizing and centering Blackness. It will look at the myriad of ways that Black Lives Matter has inspired and as well as connected with liberation and anti-state violence movements outside of U.S. borders. The book also plans to showcase how Black Lives Matter has expanded its own work internationally, establishing chapters in Ghana and Canada for example.
The majority of your support will go to travel costs in order to interview grassroots organizers, around the United States, including in Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York, Ferguson, Miami, Cleveland, and Charleston. Your donation will also help us transcribe dozens of interviews, and carry out additional research on and off-line. Here is a more specific breakdown of our budget.
For the past year, Jeanette Charles, Mai’a Williams and Michael Fox, the editorial team of the book, have written, interviewed, and researched the Black Lives Matter movement for teleSUR English, a global news agency based in Latin America. We have talked with organizers and intellectuals across the U.S. and followed the movement’s growth.
Jeanette Charles is from working class Black and Brown Los Angeles and a daughter of the Haitian diaspora. She has organized across Latin America and the Caribbean with African and Indigenous peoples struggling to build autonomy and guarantee self-determination. She is an organizer, popular educator, translator and journalist. She is also currently a student at the Bolivarian University of Venezuela in Caracas where she is developing pedagogies to promote solidarity between Venezuela and Haiti.
Mai’a Williams has worked as a writer and human rights worker in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Her work focuses on refugee and displaced women under the threat of violence. She is also the co-editor of the upcoming anthology, “Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines” and is the author of two books, “Monsters and Other Silent Creatures” and “No God but Ghosts. ”
Michael Fox is the Multimedia Coordinator of teleSUR English. Before joining teleSUR he worked as a community organizer in Baltimore; and an editor, a freelance journalist, radio reporter, and documentary filmmaker for roughly a decade. He is a former editor of the NACLA Report on the Americas, the director of two feature-length documentaries and the co-author of a pair of books on Latin America, including “Venezuela Speaks: Voices from the Grassroots” (PM Press, 2010).
The Oakland -based publisher PM Press has expressed interest in the book, with a publication date of late 2016, or early 2017.
As the founders of Black Lives Matters write, this movement, “goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.”
“Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement. When we say Black Lives Matter, we are broadening the conversation around state violence to include all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state.”