The Black organizers making history with their sustained resistance to racism in the United States are now preparing to hold their first-ever national gathering to "reflect on our histories of struggle, build a sense of fellowship that transcends geographical boundaries, and begin to heal from the many traumas we face."
The historic convening is slated to bring together more than 1,000 Black organizers from Ferguson, New York, Baltimore, Oakland, and beyond. The coalition is comprised of the groups that have been grabbing international headlines with their ongoing protests, including Ferguson Action, Black Lives Matter, Black Youth Project 100, and Baltimore United for Change.
The gathering will take place Friday through Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio—itself the site of resistance to a police department with a harrowing track record of killing Black residents, including 37-year-old Tanisha Anderson and 12-year-old Tamir Rice. It comes amid mounting outrage over 28-year-old Black woman Sandra Bland's "unfathomable" death in police custody last week after being pulled over in Texas for a traffic stop.
In a press statement released Thursday, organizers with the Movement for Black Lives Convening said that participants will strategize in the face of big and intersecting challenges: "Black people are facing unabated police violence, increasing criminalization, a failed economic system, a broken education system and the loss of our communities to gentrification and development. Our trans and queer communities face the increased risk of physical and economic violence."
"Many have taken to the streets in response to this ongoing state of emergency. During the past year, Black people from across the country have led a wave of resistance that has spread around the world," the statement continues. "A new crop of freedom fighters has emerged and urgent desire for Black victory has been rekindled in the hearts of seasoned activists. Now, after months of intense action, our people need space to begin the creation of a collective mission that matches the intensity, scale, urgency, and promise of the moment."
"This is a movement, not a moment," they declared.
This short video, produced by the coalition, provides a retrospective of the nationwide protests, organizing drives, and creative direct actions that have led up to the gathering.