Black Lives Matter co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi visited Notre Dame during the 2016 MLK Day Walk the Walk Celebration to deliver words of encouragement and hope to two packed rooms of interested students, faculty, administrators and South Bend community members. Cullors and Tometi, along with fellow community organizer Alicia Garza, began their online #BlackLivesMatter campaign in the summer of 2013 after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Cullors and Tometi spoke on diverse topics such as race relations, feminism and LGBTQ issues, poverty, police brutality, prison reform, and immigration reform among others, but throughout the evening the underlying thread was the ongoing movement to improve the lives of black people both in America and internationally. Stressing the importance of strength in numbers, they encouraged the audience to join organizations in order to effect change and welcomed those who came out to hear them speak to “the team.”
MSPS Director Iris Outlaw stressed the impact of this visit: “This event created an opportunity for the community to have intellectual discourse about providing human dignity to those lives who have been devalued by society. Opal and Patrisse challenged us to determine what role we would play in instituting change. It’s important for those who serve as change agents to incorporate residual care to maintain their health and wellbeing as well.”
This event was co-sponsored by Multicultural Students Programs and Services, Gender Relations Center, Center for Arts and Culture, Student Government, Department of Africana Studies and Division of Student Affairs.