Black Lives Matter
(L-R) Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, are interviewed by Mia Birdsong (not shown) at TEDWomen 2016 (Flickr.com)
Black Lives Matter is an American social movement first organized by Alicia Garza, Patrisse McCullors, and Opal Tometi in response to the shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, Florida. George Zimmerman, who lived in the same planned housing community as Martin, shot and killed the 17-year-old. Zimmerman claimed that Martin threatened him. But Martin was unarmed during the incident, and the contents he had with him—a can of iced tea and a bag of candy—became a symbol for this incident in later protest. Activists were particularly concerned about the handling of Martin's death by local authorities, including delays in identifying Martin's body and notifying his parents, the investigation of the case and determination of criminal charges in the case, and the eventual acquittal of Zimmerman of second-degree murder on July 13, 2013. Black Lives Matter, as a slogan, was used on social media platforms, especially Twitter to discuss an array of issues, especially state violence against black people. Black Lives Matter groups are committed to local, national, and international efforts, and the movement is guided by the principles of participatory democracy theory and intersectional feminism, while rejecting a top-down or centralized leadership structure. Garza has described the movement as "an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks' contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.