Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza will be the keynote speaker for the “Black Liberation: The Rose That Grew From Concrete” event on Wednesday evening, during which she will be sharing her thoughts about the BLM movement and addressing discrimination in the United States.
The free event will be in Campbell Hall and is part of UC Santa Barbara’s BLM Week organized by the Resource Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the Black Student Engagement Program and Queer Commission. The week’s events aim to address the nature of institutionalized racism and its effect on society.
Garza, current special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, will share her call-to-action against discrimination in the U.S. and urge individuals to join the fight for justice for all black lives.
Garza will also be featured in a sustainability workshop at 12 p.m. Wednesday in the Associated Students (A.S.) Pardall Center to discuss student activism, strategizing and movement.
The BLM movement started in 2012 after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was posthumously put on trial for his own murder and the shooter, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of the murder charges.
Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquisition sparked outrage across the country. Racial tension became the center of protests much like those in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by then police officer Darren Wilson.
These cases prompted grassroots community organizing like BLM in response to the rising number of police shootings across the country.
The internet responded to the growing tensions with #BlackLivesMatter.
Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors and Garza, the BLM founders, transformed the viral hashtag into a movement that is now a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of black life.
According to their website, BLM strives to broaden 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.
“It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements,” wrote Garza in the “herstory” section of their website.
Critics of the movement visited UCSB earlier this year and stirred controversy over free speech.
Ben Shapiro, conservative political commentator and author, visited Campbell Hall in February for an event titled “The Regressive Left, ‘Social Justice’ and #BlackLivesMatter.” The lecture was previously entitled “Lies, Prejudice and Division: The Legacy of the #BLM Movement.”
The event was preempted by a six-hour-long A.S. Senate forum in October during which several student groups, including the Black Students Union, expressed concern of hateful rhetoric rising from his speech. Shapiro later called the opposition “sort of fascist.”