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The Spark to A Hashtag MovementThe beginning of #blacklivesmatter came about during a time of fear and disapproval of the government system making excuses for the deaths of African Americans. The hashtag was created in response to concern towards civil rights. On July 13th, 2013, the verdict of the killer of a young, teenage African American boy named Trayvon Martin was delivered to the public as being innocent. George Zimmerman took his official first step of freedom out of the courtroom. Alicia Garza had been sitting in a bar in Oakland, California, when she learned of the verdict. She watched as people left the bar one by one in response to the controversial news. The morning after she cried herself to sleep, Garza went onto Facebook and posted her love note to the Black community, ending with "Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives Matter." A close friend, Patrisse Cullors, shared Garza's post with the caption of #blacklivesmatter with the world. This one instance created a spark towards a virtual civil rights movement.
"Your Stories= Our Stories"The next day Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza met up to brainstorm a campaign about the fight for Black people to be heard. They then reached out to Opal Tometi, an activist primarily for immigrant rights, to have her on board for their campaign. The three women started the campaign by creating Tumblr and Twitter accounts to share stories and other users' stories of why #blacklivesmatter. Cullors lead a march on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills shortly after to let people speak out towards the Trayvon Martin case in the form of civil protest. This protest was the first protest that featured #blacklivesmatter, which spread the hashtag culturally.
On August 9, 2014, an 18-year-old Black teen, named Michael Brown, was killed by a White police officer in Ferguson, Michigan, with twelve rounds of bullets to the body. Michael Brown had been unarmed. Many people of the world erupted in disgust and anger towards the police brutality that happened. Others took to social media to display their feelings and ending each post with #blacklivesmatter, which created a huge spike in tweets during. A young, 12-year-old African American boy was shot by an officer because of the toy gun in the child's hands. Twitter was taken over with rampant tweets about police brutality and the belittling of Black lives. On November 25, 2014, #blacklivesmatter continued to increase at almost 200,000 tweets as Darren Wilson, Michael Brown's killer, was ruled innocent.
In December of 2014, Hillary mentioned #blacklivesmatter at the Robert Kennedy Human Rights gala. This was the first time a politician had feature the hashtag in a public speech. In January, the American Dialect Society announced #blacklivesmatter as the "word" of the year. The hashtag also was awarded most notable hashtag, followed by #icantbreathe in rememberance of Eric Garner. In June, nine people were shot in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, by a White Supremacist, Dylan Roof. The sorrow and anger of many people took on the form of a social media post with #blacklivesmatter tagged on. Much of the strife that came later was caused by the Confederate flag being hung on the flagpole in front of the statehouse in Charleston. Bree Newsome took it upon herself to climb the flagpole and retreive the Confedrate flag. She became a symbol for the #blacklivesmatter movement during the time and a reassurance that Black power was still in stride.
Effect on Pop CultureThe popularity of #blacklivesmatter allowed for Black history movies, such as Selma, to prosper more sufficiently in the box office as many people fled to the movie theaters to gain some appreciation of African American lives and the struggle for freedom. Television was also effected by the storm of this hashtag movement. On September 23, 2015, the critically-acclaimed television show on FOX, Empire, showed their support for the #blacklivesmatter movement in their 2nd season premiere. This was the first time that the hashtag movement was shown on a television show. On October 14, 2015, #blacklivesmatter was also mentioned on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as they featured the police shooting an innocent, unarmed Black man. On February 7, 2016, Beyonce performed a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement at Super Bowl 50 in front of billions of people.
In recent news, #blaclivesmatter has spread even more when Ben & Jerry's announced their support of the hashtag movement on October 6, 2016, but they also received a lot of backlash for becoming political. However, the ice cream company even an ice cream flavor attributed to #blacklivesmatter named Impowerment Mint.
The history of #blacklivesmatter has made its way through history and is still continuing....