Black Lives Matter Wins 2017 Peace Prize

The Sydney Peace Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation partnered with the University of Sydney, presents the Sydney Peace Prize every year, to activists fighting for positive social or environmental change.

According , The prize, which includes a $500,000 award, provides a platform for the activists to increase their reach and spread awareness for their causes. It has been presented annually since 1998.This year, the Sydney Peace Prize has been awarded to the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLM) and will be accepted by the three activists who co-founded it: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi.

Alicia Garza is an African-American activist and editorial writer who lives in Oakland, California. She has organized around the issues of health, student services and rights, rights for domestic workers, ending police brutality, anti-racism, and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Her editorial writing has been published by The Guardian, The Nation, The Feminist Wire, Rolling Stone, HuffPost and Truthout. She currently directs Special Projects at the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Garza also co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement.Garza was a vocal supporter of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders throughout last year’s US presidential race.

Patrisse Cullors is an African-American artist and activist from Los Angeles, an advocate for criminal justice reform in Los Angeles and co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. She also identifies as a “queer activist”. Cullors credits social media as instrumental in revealing violence against African-Americans,saying that “On a daily basis, every moment, black folks are being bombarded with images of our death.It’s literally saying, ‘Black people, you might be next. You will be next, but in hindsight it will be better for our nation, the less of our kind, the more safe it will be.

Opal Tometi is a New York-based Nigerian-American writer, strategist and community organizer. She is a co-founder of Black Lives Matter.She is the Executive Director at BAJI (Black Alliance for Just Immigration). Tometi collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York City, Oakland, Washington D.C. and communities throughout the Southern states. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post.Tometi joined with Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza to give shape to the Black Lives Matter group. Tometi is credited with setting up the social media aspects of the movement.

The Sydney Peace Prize Jury awarded the prize to BLM “for building a powerful movement for racial equality, courageously reigniting a global conversation around state violence and racism. And for harnessing the potential of new platforms and the power of people to inspire a bold movement for change at a time when peace is threatened by growing inequality and injustice.”

The Black Lives Matter movement began in July 2013, after George Zimmerman’s acquittal of the murder of unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin. While the Black Lives Matter movement is primarily active in the US, it is significant that the movement and these three women in particular are being recognised in Australia with this award. BLM said it accepted the Prize “in solidarity with organisers throughout Australia who in the face of egregious oppression fight back against the state and proclaim that all Black Lives Matter”.

The 2017 Sydney Peace Prize will be awarded on November 2 at Sydney Town Hall. They will also deliver the City of Sydney peace lecture at a public ceremony.