NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The co-founder of the global Black Lives Matter movement, Alicia Garza, was the keynote speaker Thursday at a conference titled “Black Voices of the Future.” She says the work of the movement she helped create is far from over.
“We want to talk about the issues that we care about: policing,” Garza said. “Am I going to make it home from a traffic stop?”
It has been ten years since she co-founded Black Lives Matter. Thursday, she’s at the Yale Divinity School for a day-long conference.
“All day long, all we’re going to be hearing are different versions from different communities about what a Black political future looks like,” explained Dr. Phillip Atiba Goff, the chair of Yale University’s African American Studies Department.
Garza pointed out the struggle that needs to happen for much of a future.
“The rules have been intentionally rigged from the beginning to keep Black communities from being powerful in the processes that decide who gets what, when, and why,” Garza said.
One thing several speakers emphasized is that there is not one Black community. There is not one Black political party. You cannot think of an entire race as a monolithic group.
“Black people don’t just care about police brutality,” Goff said. “We don’t just care about urban schooling because most Black people in America live in the south.”
People marched in the name of Black Lives Matter three years ago. The words are written on walls and streets everywhere, but that is not necessarily good news.
“When we name things and memorialize things, sometimes that’s the necessary precursor to forgetting about them,” Goff said. “Democracy is not a thing that you accomplish and then celebrate.”
Making Black lives matter requires the political struggle Garza talked about.
“Our strategies include black voter engagement, motivation, and activation,” Garza said. “Our strategies include training and capacity building for Black-led and Black-focused organizations.”
The symbols of #BLM are important, she says, but substance is more important.