blacklivesmatter protestor at netroots

An interview with #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Cullors

As you probably heard, the #BlackRightsMatter movement staged a protest at last week’s Netroots Nation conference. During an interview of Democratic presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley by activist Jose Antonio Vargas, two women took the stage: Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of #BlackLivesMatter, and Tia Oso, an immigration rights activist. Oso demanded that O’Malley advance a racial justice agenda, as people in the audience shouted “Black lives matter!” and demanded “Whose side are you on?” When Cullors got on stage, she demanded concrete action on racism from the former Governor of Maryland.

Friend of the site Jamil Smith, a Senior Editor at The New Republic, interviewed Cullors about what she was hoping to accomplish when she took the stage, how she thought O’Malley responded, and what’s next for #BlackLivesMatter.

JS: What’s in store for you and the movement, in general, what are some things you all have been talking about?

PC: I want to be clear that everything that’s happened with Sandra Bland has deeply impacted the black community and black women in particular. This action was mostly led by black women, and black women were the architects of it. You’re going to see us take more action in response to Sandra Bland. You’re also going to see us take these presidential debates very seriously. For us, this was just the model for what we want to do at every presidential debate. We should be the ones modeling the debates. I’m really appreciative of Jose Antonio Vargas, who was actually a really great moderator, supported the protestors, and was actually an amazing liaison; that’s not always going to be the case. I think we have to get in the habit of shutting down the debates, and calling out the elected officials. They need to earn our votes, they need to fight for our votes, and they need to be prepared to answer hard questions—and not become defensive or cowardly in the face of them.

You can read the whole thing here.

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Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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