Movement for Black Lives
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) is a coalition of groups across the United States which represent the interests of black communities. It was formed in 2014 as a response to sustained and increasingly visible violence against black communities, with the purpose of creating a united front and establishing a political platform. The collective is made up of more than 150 organizations, with members such as the Black Lives Matter Network, the National Conference of Black Lawyers, and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and endorsement from groups including Color of Change, Race Forward, Brooklyn Movement Center, PolicyLink, Million Women March Cleveland, and ONE DC. The coalition receives communications and tactical support from an organization named Blackbird.
On July 24, 2015 the movement initially convened at Cleveland State University where between 1,500 and 2,000 activists gathered to participate in open discussions and demonstrations. The conference in Cleveland, Ohio initially attempted to "strategize ways for the Movement for Black Lives to hold law enforcement accountable for their actions on a national level". However, the conference resulted in the formation of a much more significant social movement. At the end of the three day conference, on July 26, the Movement for Black Lives initiated a year long "process of convening local and national groups to create a United Front". This year long process ultimately resulted in the establishment of an organizational platform that articulates the goals, demands, and policies which the Movement for Black Lives supports in order to achieve the "liberation" of black communities across America.
The organization's platform, entitled "A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands for Black Power, Freedom and Justice," has six "demands": 1) End the war on black people 2) Reparations 3) Invest-Divest 4) Economic justice 5) Community control, and 6) Political power. Each demand outlines the demands, the problem, the solution, and the actions that need to be taken at the local, state, and federal level. The intention of the platform was to establish a unifying agenda that would provide advocacy groups with the necessary steps to transform the political, economic, and social circumstances of black communities in America. Although the Movement for Black Lives' platform was "launched in the context of the Democratic National Convention," the coalition seeks to implement and create their own change within American society as it recognizes that neither major "political party has our interests at heart." The Movement for Black Lives' platform contains over 30 policies aimed toward achieving the movements' objectives; furthermore, the Movement for Black lives has provided briefs explaining how individuals/organizations can get involved as well as the different levels of government through which the platform seeks to enact specific legislation. While the movement's platform largely focuses on the implementation of domestic policies that will advance black communities in America, the movement also recognizes "that patriarchy, exploitative capitalism, militarism, and white supremacy know no borders;" and thus, it is necessary that people acknowledge both the goals and demands beyond those represented by the platform's policies.
End the war on black people - seeks to resolve:
- "the criminalization and dehumanization of Black youth across all areas of society";
- capital punishment;
- money bail and court surcharges in court proceedings;
- "use of past criminal history to determine eligibility for housing, education, licenses, voting, loans, employment, and other services";
- "the war on Black immigrants including the repeal of the 1996 crime and immigration bills";
- "the war on Black trans, queer and gender nonconforming people";
- "the mass surveillance of Black communities";
- "the militarization of law enforcement";
- "the privatization of police, prisons, jails, probation, parole, food, phone and all other criminal justice related services"; and
- "public jails, detention centers, youth facilities and prisons" in their present conditions.
Reparations for the:
- "systemic denial of access to high quality educational opportunities in the form of full and free access for all Black people";
- "continued divestment from, discrimination toward and exploitation of our communities in the form of a guaranteed minimum livable income for all Black people";
- "wealth extracted from" the black communities "through environmental racism, slavery, food apartheid, housing discrimination and racialized capitalism in the form of corporate and government reparations";
- "cultural and educational exploitation, erasure, and extraction" in the form of, among other things, "public school curriculums that critically examine the political, economic, and social impacts of colonialism and slavery"; and
- the demand the state and federal levels require "the United States to acknowledge the lasting impacts of slavery, establish and execute a plan to address those impacts".
- Reallocation of federal, state, and local government funds from "policing and incarceration to long-term strategies for education, restorative justice services, and employment programs."
- The decriminalization, immediate release, record expungement, and reparations for the disparaging effects of both the "war on drugs" and "the criminalization of prostitution" on black communities.
- "Real, meaningful, and equitable universal healthcare"
- A constitutionally protected right to a "fully-funded education"
- Divestment from the "use of fossil fuels and investment in community-based sustainable energy solutions."
- Cuts to military expenditures and a reallocation of those funds to "infrastructure and community well-being"
- Redistribution of wealth through a "progressive restructuring of tax codes at the local, state, and federal levels."
- Employment programs that specifically target the "most marginalized Black people" in order to promote economic equality.
- "A right to restored land, clean air, clean water and housing and an end to the exploitative privatizaiton of natural resources."
- Right for workers to organize in both the public and private sector.
- Restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act.
- "An end to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and a renegotiation of all trade agreements" with an increased focus on the interests of workers and communities.
- Increased support for "the development of cooperative or social economy networks."
- "Financial support of Black alternative institutions."
- Increased protection for workers in poorly regulated industries.
- Implementation of "democratic community control of local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies."
- "End to the privatization of education."
- Communal participation in "budgeting at the local state and federal level."
- "End to the criminalization of Black political activity."
- Termination of super PACs and the implementation of "public financing of elections."
- Establishment of "full-access guarantees, and protections of the right to vote for all people."
- "Full-access to technology" through the implementation of "net-neutrality and universal access to internet."
- "Protection and increased funding for Black institutions."
Major protests and demonstrations
Cleveland State University
On July 24, 2015 individuals from across the country gathered at Cleveland State University in response to incidents of police brutality targeting the African-American community. Specifically, the deaths of individuals such as Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice sparked a need for the conference among the African-American community. During the three day conference (July 24–26), activists participated in discussions, viewed short films, and engaged in workshops designed to mobilize individuals seeking to find solutions to the problems that black communities face. The Cleveland State University convention is considered the first major gathering of the Movement for Black Lives as more than 1500 individuals attended the conference. Subsequently, activists from the convention embarked on a mission to establish the official Movement for Black Lives organization as well as establish a policy platform that could guide activists from around the country in their fight to end police brutality and discrimination against blacks within the United States.
The conference gained even more national media attention when, on the last day of the convention, a Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) officer maced a crowd of primarily African-American activists just blocks away from Cleveland State University. The crowd had gathered in response to an RTA officer's detention of an African-American teen for intoxication. According to authorities, the teenager was unable to "care for himself" due to his level of intoxication, and thus the authorities thought it was necessary to take him into custody. During the teenager's detention a crowd gathered around the police cruiser to protest the detention of the teen; in order to clear the crowd from the path of the police cruiser, "a Transit Police officer used a general burst of pepper spray" directed toward the activists. The incident drew criticism as interest groups, such as the ACLU of Ohio, believed "the use of pepper spray by law enforcement as a means of crowd control is questionable."
Professional sports demonstrations
The Movement for Black Lives (Black Lives Matter Movement) has essentially become synonymous within American culture. Furthermore, the Movement for Black Lives has been bolstered by the virality of the "#BlackLivesMatter" hashtag on social media. Athletes across American professional sports have demonstrated their support for the movement through various demonstrations and protests. In 2016, professional football player Colin Kaepernick elected to sit during the playing of the national anthem at an NFL football game. During post-game interviews, Kaepernick explained, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Kaepernick and other NFL player activists received intense criticism for their pre-game protests throughout the 2016 season, including criticism from Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who said, "Would I arrest them for doing it? No... I think it's dumb and disrespectful." Although Colin Kaepernick's protest received mixed criticism, it unequivocally brought increased salience to the matter of black lives within the United States.
Players from other American professional sports, such as the National Basketball Association, have also participated in demonstrations to support the Movement for Black Lives. In 2016, professional basketball players LeBron James, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, and Carmelo Anthony took center-stage at the ESPY's to deliver a "call to action" in response to the shootings of both Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, as well as the deaths of five police officers that were slain earlier that month. The four NBA stars saw it as an opportunity to bring individuals on both sides of the Movement for Black Lives together; former Miami Heat shooting guard, Dwyane Wade stated, "Racial profiling has to stop... but also the retaliation has to stop. Enough is enough." The group further encouraged Americans to "renounce all violence," and instead, focus their efforts on rebuilding the divided communities within America.
The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) has encountered a mixed reception from various interest groups. Following the publishing of the Movement for Black Lives' platform, many interest groups issued a public response either condemning or supporting the movement's objectives.
Some Jewish and "pro-Israel" organizations expressed strong objections to the platform's statements on Israel, particularly its use of the word "genocide" to describe Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Prominent Jewish organizations, such as the Global Jewish Advocacy organization (AJC), further condemned the Movement for Black Lives' for what it deemed an inaccurate representation of the Israel-Palestinian conflict as the MBL platform labeled Israel as an "apartheid state." In doing so, they argued, the Movement for Black Lives "libels Israel, while diluting the moral seriousness of those terms: [genocide and apartheid]." Additionally, many interest groups were critical of the Movement for Black Lives' claim that the "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement" should be considered an inspiration. Many Jewish advocacy groups believe the Movement for Black Lives' support of this movement seems to be furthering anti-semitic sentiment. According to the Global Jewish Advocacy organization, "MBL identifies itself with a cause that, beyond undermining the effort to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians, is fundamentally grounded in denial of the very legitimacy of the Jewish state."
While the Movement for Black Lives has received extensive criticism for its platform and objectives, there has also been widespread support for the movement. Organizations such as the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, ACLU of Northern California, and even the National Council of Jewish Women showed support for the Movement for Black Lives by issuing public statements following the movement's controversial publication of its platform. The Movement for Black Lives' call for criminal justice reform and the end of police brutality resonated with many advocacy groups. In one statement, the National Council of Jewish Women stated, "NCJW affirms that Black lives matter, including Jews of color, who are a vital part of both the Jewish and our NCJW community. We recognize that the Black and Jewish communities are inextricably linked and our struggles for social justice are connected."
The Movement for Black Lives received further support from "Democracy for America" following the release of its policy platform. One of the primary goals of the Movement for Black Lives is to promote a democracy that is more representative of black communities in America. Various political organizations have stood in solidarity with MBL because, according to "Democracy for America," it is seen as "an ideal catalyst for the substantive, results-oriented conversations the current and future leaders of the Democratic Party must have with the communities they serve." Furthermore, the Movement for Black Lives' goals to promote economic, political, and social change provide a "solid blueprint" for future legislators as they seek to further understand and resolve the problems that exist within the black community.
Furthermore, Rabbi Arthur Waskow described the platform as "a remarkable platform for social change toward racial justice in America" and recommended that every American read it. He wrote that although the platform has "thousands of words that address both comprehensively and in great detail what it would take to fully end the legacy of slavery and the constant resurgence of racism", a single paragraph "and especially one word in it—'genocide'" has grabbed the attention of the American Jewish community. Waskow wrote that the specific allegations in the paragraph concerning "the Israeli government's behavior and its effects in the US are largely accurate BUT—factually, it is not true that the State of Israel has committed, is committing, genocide upon the Palestinian people." He added, "Oppression, yes. Genocide, no."
In 2016, the Ford Foundation partnered with Borealis Philanthropy, an intermediary organization, to set up a "Black-Led Movement Fund" with the stated intention to "bring $100 million in new resources to the Movement for Black Lives". Although Ford Foundation decided to no longer move forward with their investment, the BLMF has been able to award small grants to several organizations within the Movement for Black Lives. 
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