Author, activist, and educator Patrisse Cullors has dedicated her life to fight for the end of violence against Black people in America and empower communities. She is one of the co creators of Black Lives Matter and has developed programs to unite the Black community throughout her life. Along with her activism, she also as a professor at Prescott College where developed the Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program.

Patrisse Cullors

February 25, 2021

While born in Los Angeles, California on June 20, 1983, Patrisse Cullors an activist, abolitionist, believing in Marxism and fighting for Black liberation. Cullors grew up in San Fernando Valley, a low-income community in California. During her high school years, Cullors brought to light her queer identity, left her hometown of Los Angeles, and graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in Reseda, California. 

From Cullor’s early years she began a life of activism through her involvement in the Bus Riders Union, a civil rights organization that focused on the discriminatory Los Angeles public transportation system. This was just the beginning for Cullors, as she gained a Fulbright Scholarship to attend college and was given the Mario Savio Young Activist Award in 2007.

After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012 where she received her degree in religion and philosophy, Cullors wasted no time putting her talent to use, as produced a performance art piece, STAINED: An Intimate Portrayal of State Violence, to bring awareness to the violence and abuse in the jail system. This creation inspired Cullors to create her non-profit Dignity and Power Now, an organization dedicated to fight for healing justice for those in the prison system and their families.  

In 2013, she co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement, and she was the one to generate the famous social media hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter. With the other co-founders, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza, BLM was created to end violence against Black people and is a movement that continued being prevalent today across the nation.  

In a Huffington interview in 2014, Cullors revealed the role social media played on the movement. 

“Social media has changed the game,” Cullors said. “On a daily basis, every moment, Black folks are being bombarded with images of our death. And after a while that does something to your psyche. It’s literally saying, ‘Black people, you might be next. You will be next.’”

With her production of POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied, Cullors continued her work in voicing the current power of the police in relation to Black people. She also co authored When They Call you a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir and worked in the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails as the executive director. In the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights Cullors, she sits as a board member and today works a professor at Prescott College where developed the Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program. 

With all her works, Cullors has received numerous national recognitions including NAACP History Maker, Justice Award from National Center for Lesbian Rights, Civil Rights Leader for the 21st Century, and Defender of the Dream Award from the AFL-CIO Executive Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights.

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