Origin of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and the Influence of Twitter on the Movement – Smithsonian Magazine




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“In July 2013, a 32-year-old writer named Alicia Garza was sipping bourbon in an Oakland bar, eyes on the television screen as the news came through: George Zimmerman had been acquitted by a Florida jury in the killing of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager. As the decision sank in, Garza logged onto Facebook and wrote, “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.” Garza’s friend Patrisse Cullors wrote back, closing her post with the hashtag “#blacklivesmatter.”

Though it began on Facebook, the phrase exploded on Twitter, electrifying digital avenues where black users were already congregating to discuss the issues and narratives that are often absent from the national conversation. A year later Black Lives Matter had become a series of organized activist movements, with Twitter its lifeblood. Since that first utterance, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” has been tweeted 30 million times on Twitter, the company says. Twitter, it can be said, completely changed the way activism is done, who can participate and even how we define it.”


Article from Smithsonian Magazine about the origin of the term “Black Lives Matter” and how Twitter has been an important tool for the movement.


  • Jenna Wortham


  • Black Tweets Matter


  • Smithsonian Magazine


  • September 2016


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