The group's origins begin with the Black Youth Project, a project set up by black activist and feminist Cathy Cohen, a political scientist at the University of Chicago. Cohen created an online hub to study African American millennials with the goal of empowering them. In 2013, Cohen met Charlene Carruthers, then a youth activist in Chicago, and the group was created that summer.
Views and membership
BYP100's membership is limited to those between 18 and 35; in Chicago, many are students, while "others are artists, poets, service workers, media makers, and musicians."
A profile in Chicago Magazine described the group as "decidedly radical," noting "In the short term, they want an elected group to replace the appointed Chicago Police Board, but in the long term, they advocate the outright abolition of the police department and the prison system. Among their other goals: reparations, universal childcare, a higher minimum wage, the decriminalization of marijuana, and the repeal of other laws that disproportionately land black youths in the criminal justice system."
Cohen, writing an op-ed in the Washington Post with political theorist Danielle Allen, described the group's goals as organizing "against state violence directed at black youth." Cohen and Allen write:
BYP100 promotes a leadership model at odds with the male charismatic leader made famous by Malcolm X and King. These activists also look to black feminism and "queer" political analysis, again focusing on multiple forms of marginalization, to guide their organization and campaigns. They underscore that the civil rights movement, too, was built with the strength of women and queer activists (think Ella Baker and Bayard Rustin), not merely charismatic, heterosexual men.
In September 2014, BYP100 released Agenda to Keep Us Safe, a policy document called for the "demilitarization" of law enforcement, the creation of civilian review boards to address accusations of police misconduct, an end to the War on Drugs, requirements for police to wear body cameras, and the increase in the enforcement of existing civil rights laws.
On Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January 2016, the organization launched their Black economic justice policy platform, the Agenda to Build Black Futures with a series of actions and events around the country under the banner of the hashtag #reclaimMLK. The group described the campaign as inspired by King's Poor People's Campaign.
They worked closely with Chicago Black Lives Matter to defeat the reelection bid of Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, of whose response to the shooting of Laquan McDonald they disapproved.
In April 2015, BYP100 activists criticized D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser for detailing 34 Metropolitan Police Department officers to Maryland to assist in responding to civil disturbances in Baltimore in accordance with the Emergency Management Assistance Compact. The group called upon Bowser to recall the officers.
- Aaron C. Davis, Black youth group demands D.C. mayor recall officers from Baltimore, Washington Post (April 29, 2017).
- Holliday, Darryl (22 February 2016). "The New Black Power". Chicago Magazine.
- Danielle Allen & Cathy Cohen, The new civil rights movement doesn’t need an MLK, Washington Post (April 10, 2015).
- "BYP100 Agenda to Keep Us Safe". BYP 100. 2014-09-30. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
- "MLK Day 2016: Black Economic Justice Agenda Inspired By Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Poor People's Campaign Lives On". International Business Times. 2016-01-18. Retrieved 2016-05-12.
- Rankin, Kenrya (24 February 2016). "Young Activists Disrupt Anita Alvarez Fundraiser". ColorLines. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
- May, Zed Collective (19 October 2016). "We're Assata's Daughters". Zed Books. Retrieved 7 March 2017.