Who are we?
The Movement for Black Lives
The Movement for Black Lives includes a number of organizations, individuals and networks focused on a hopeful and inclusive vision of Black joy, safety and prosperity. That means freedom from violence and economic inequality, as well as the freedom to realize our greatest dreams.
In this moment, Black and Brown people, immigrant communities, the economically unstable, women, children, the disabled, the LGBTQ community, those working to protect our right to work and those fighting for our right to clean air and water, are all facing attacks because a minority whose values are rooted in white supremacy, division and hatred have taken power.
Although in power, hate is not the majority. People who believe in freedom, justice and the humanity of all people are the majority, and we’ve had enough. We won’t stand idly by and watch our communities be attacked and torn apart.
Join The Majority, and fight for a future where all of our children can be free, safe and live healthy, abundant lives.
Why this moment?
Fifty years ago in Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech he called for us to confront “the fierce urgency of now,” and demand that this country “undergo a radical revolution of values.” In doing so he expanded his civil rights platform. On the anniversary of that speech (April 4th) and on May Day (May 1st) we will go beyond moments of outrage, beyond narrow concepts of sanctuary, and beyond barriers between communities that have much at stake and so much in common. We will strike, rally and resist. Our aim is to build a mighty movement of all people dedicated to freedom. That means we don’t deny our differences, we embrace them and build a movement bold, broad and big enough to include our many realities.
Beyond the Moment: Uniting Movements from April 4th to May Day (BTM) is a multitiered campaign intended to move masses of people nationally toward meaningful, trans-local actions designed to expand and strengthen multi-racial, multi-sector and local long-term organizing capacity to strengthen the fight for justice, freedom and the right to live fully, with dignity and respect for all people. The combination of actions (which begin on April 4, 2017), range from small vigils to mass mobilizations, all of which are grounded in an intersectional analysis that centers anti-Black racism to expose just how intertwined issues of social inequality really are across our different communities. Mass political education will also take place throughout the month as a means of connecting the moment we’re in and the cross-movement work we’re engaging in, with that of times past, namely the intersectional work of the Civil Rights Movement. Beyond the Moment is uniquely-positioned to shift predominant narratives around issues including racial, environmental and economic justice, toward a more accurate and radically-inclusive frame—one including the experiences of Black, Latinx, Native, Muslim, refugee and all identities.
Why April 4th
April 4, 2017 is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beyond Vietnam” Speech at Riverside Church in New York City. During the speech he referred to the “giant triplets” of racism, materialism/capitalism and militarism. This marks an important milestone in movement history and the radicalism of Dr. King. He offered a critique of imperialist war and the injustice of racial capitalism.
Exactly one year later (April 4, 1968) Dr. King was was assassinated while organizing alongside Black sanitation workers in Memphis on the eve of the launch of the Poor People’s Campaign which would declare poverty a human rights violation. Although this history is not well known by the public at large, it’s meaningful for many organizing progressives and left formations. It also situates our current work in the larger trajectory of a radical Black Freedom Movement that crafted a liberatory agenda that went beyond the Black community, and beyond that moment.
The cross-sector, intersectional nature of Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech on April 4th speaks to the practice of working across difference and is a critical opportunity for forward looking political education. This speech makes the link between racial justice and economic justice unequivocally in the U.S. context, and embraces a trans-national vision of solidarity and justice.
While we use the date of Dr. King’s historic speech and tragic assassination as a beginning point for our 2017 mobilization, we reject any analysis that would suggest that Dr. King was singularly responsible for the movement. That’s why on April 4th, we will also teach and learn about grassroots organizers who were the backbone of the Black Freedom Movement, and other social justice movements in the U.S. and globally.
Why May 1st?
May 1st or May Day (International Worker’s Day) emerged out of the fight for an eight-hour workday in 1886 in Chicago. On this day, striking workers clashed with police, resulting in several deaths—four of the protesters were later hanged.
In recent years, May Day has become an important day of action for immigrant rights. In 2006, hundreds of thousands of immigrants and allies marched in cities around the country to push back against criminalization and to demand fair immigration policies. The 2006 May Day rallies marked a powerful surge in the growing political power of immigrant communities, and were accompanied by boycotts, walkouts and and other forms of protest to highlight the vital roles of immigrants in the U.S.
In the context of a new President using grandiose promises of job creation to mask the fundamentally anti-worker and pro-corporation nature of his policies, it is imperative that we put forth a true, collective vision of economic justice and worker justice, for all people. This May Day, we are uniquely positioned to recast the predominant left narratives around economic justice toward a more radically inclusive frame that elevates the voices of Black and Brown workers, and to bring together a broad sector of the left to provide meaningful interventions around anti-Blackness, intersectionality and racial justice.
What are people doing on May 1st?
People around the country will be organizing various actions in their communities. This includes strikes, marches, teach-ins, and other actions.