Opal Tometi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Opal Tometi
OT Photo.jpg
Born (1984-08-15) August 15, 1984 (age 37)[1]
EducationUniversity of Arizona (BA)
Arizona State University (MA)
OccupationActivist, writer
Known forBlack Lives Matter, Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Opal Tometi (born August 15, 1984) is an American human rights activist, writer, strategist, and community organizer. She is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter (BLM).[2] She is the former Executive Director of the United States’ first national immigrant rights organization for people of African descent, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI).

With BLM, Tometi aims to bring attention to the racial inequities faced by black people. She started as an active community organizer in her hometown advocating for human rights issues. She has campaigned for advancing human rights, migrant rights, and racial justice worldwide. She also worked as a case manager for survivors of domestic violence.

Early life and education[edit]

Opal Tometi is the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. She is the oldest of three children and has two younger brothers. She grew up in Phoenix, Arizona, and now lives in Brooklyn, New York. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Arizona[3] and a Masters in Communication and Advocacy from Arizona State University. On May 7, 2016, she received an honorary doctor of science degree from Clarkson University.[4] Tometi is a former case manager for survivors of domestic violence and still provides community education on the issue.


Black Lives Matter[edit]

Tometi, with Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, founded Black Lives Matter in 2013. Tometi is credited with setting up the social media aspects of the movement.[5]

Black Alliance for Just Immigration[edit]

Tometi worked as Co-Director and Communications Director, prior to becoming Executive Director of BAJI. Her contributions included leading organizing efforts for a rally for immigrant justice and the first Congressional briefing on black immigrants in Washington DC.[6]


Tometi has spoken at Susquehanna University, the Facing Race Conference of 2012, the Aspen Institute's Ideas Summit, and the Grinnell College Technology and Human Rights Symposium.[7][8][9][10] She has presented at the United Nations and has participated with the United Nations Global Forum on Migration and the Commission on the Status of Women.[7] While at The University of Arizona, Tometi volunteered with the American Civil Liberties Union. She is additionally involved with Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity[11] and is a member of Theta Nu Xi Multicultural Sorority, Inc.

She has appeared in several media outlets, including Glamour,[12] Essence,[13] CNN,[14] MSNBC,[15] and BET.[16] Her written works have been published by several media outlets including The Huffington Post[17] and Time.[18] Tometi continues to collaborate with communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York City, Oakland, Washington D.C. and communities throughout the Southern states.

Recognition and awards[edit]

Tometi was featured as a new civil rights leader by Essence magazine in 2014 and by the Los Angeles Times in 2013.[19] She was listed in the Root 100 list of African American Achievers between 25 and 45.[20] She was listed in the Cosmopolitan Top 100 list of extraordinary women. Along with Garza and Cullors, Tometi was named to the 2013 Time 100 Women of the Year[21] and Politico 50 2015[22] Guide to Thinkers, Doers, and Visionaries.[23] In 2016, she was, alongside her co-founders, on Fortune's list of "World's Greatest Leaders".[24] She was awarded the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award in 2017.[25] She is also featured in the Smithsonian's National Museum for African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).[26] In 2018, Tometi was featured in the Guardian's list of 200 leaders[27] who embody the work of Frederick Douglass. In 2019, along with co-authors Alicia Garza and Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Tometi received a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award for When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir. In 2019 she was also awarded the Coretta Scott King Legacy Award by the Coretta Scott King Center for Cultural and Intellectual Freedom.[28] Recently, Tometi was featured on the cover of Time magazine[29] and The Guardian of Nigeria.[30] Tometi was included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020[31] and she was on the list of the BBC's 100 Women announced on 23 November 2020.[32]


  1. ^ Williams, Lauren N. (August 29, 2016). "An Influencer from the African Diaspora Who Started an American Movement". Time.
  2. ^ Dalton, Deron (May 4, 2015). "The Three Women Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement". Madame Noire. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Armstrong, Lisa. "Civil Rights Leaders". Black Alliance. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  4. ^ "Opal Tometi Awarded Clarkson University Honorary Degree". www.clarkson.edu. Clarkson University. May 7, 2016. Retrieved June 28, 2020.
  5. ^ Day, Elizabeth (July 19, 2015). "#BlackLivesMatter: the Birth of a New Civil Rights Movement". The Guardian. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  6. ^ Tometi, Opal. "Opal Tometi | Speaker | TED". www.ted.com. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  7. ^ a b "#BlackLivesMatter Founder to Speak at Susquehanna University". Susquehanna University. September 4, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  8. ^ Dinan, Stephen (September 30, 2015). "Black Lives Matter is Message of 'Love' for All: Founder". The Washington Times.
  9. ^ "Opal Tometi". Facing Race.
  10. ^ "Technology and Human Rights Symposium | Grinnell College". www.grinnell.edu. March 7–10, 2017. Retrieved March 11, 2017.
  11. ^ Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity (BOLD) website.
  12. ^ Meyerson, Collier. "Meet the Women Founders of Black Lives Matter". Glamour. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  13. ^ "Black Lives Matter Founders Chosen As Glamour's "Women Of The Year" Essence". Essence. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  14. ^ "The Disruptors". Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  15. ^ "When #BlackLivesMatter we won't have to say 'black lives matter'". MSNBC.com. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  16. ^ "Community Change Agent". BET.com. Retrieved December 18, 2018.
  17. ^ "Opal Tometi". The Huffington Post. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  18. ^ "Opal Tometi". Time. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  19. ^ Dandes, Rick (September 21, 2015). "How Friends Tapped Power of Social Media to Start a Movement". The Daily Item. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  20. ^ "The Root 100". The Root. Archived from the original on October 12, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  21. ^ "Black Lives Matter Founders: 100 Women of the Year". Time. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
  22. ^ "The Politico 50". Politico Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  23. ^ "Politico 50". Politico. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  24. ^ "The Black Lives Matter Founders Are Among the World's Greatest Leaders". Fortune. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  25. ^ "The Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards". Institute for Policy Studies. Retrieved August 1, 2018.
  26. ^ "How Do You Tell the Story of Black America in One Museum?". The New York Times. Retrieved November 26, 2018.
  27. ^ Adolphe, Juweek; Morris, Sam. "The Frederick Douglass 200: the people who embody the abolitionist's spirit and work". The Guardian. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  28. ^ Robinson, Amelia (April 25, 2019). "Dayton-area residents to receive prize alongside nationally known activists who fight for social justice". Dayton.com. Retrieved April 26, 2021.
  29. ^ "Black Lives Matter Founders: 100 Women of the Year". Time. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  30. ^ "Opal Tometi: Black Lives Matter". January 5, 2020. Retrieved December 10, 2020.
  31. ^ "Black Lives Matter Founders: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  32. ^ "BBC 100 Women 2020: Who is on the list this year?". BBC News. November 23, 2020. Retrieved November 23, 2020.

External links[edit]