Post submitted by Samantha Master, former HRC Youth & Campus Engagement Manager

This year, HRC is spotlighting the voices of African-American LGBT leaders and allies as part of HRC’s Black History Month blog series.

In the aftermath of George Zimmerman’s acquitted in the shooting death of young Trayvon Martin, three Black, queer women—Opal Tometi, Patrice Cullors and Alicia Garza—made a simple, but powerful declaration: #BlackLivesMatter.

Seemingly overnight, these women turned out a phrase that has catalyzed a national and international dialogue about (anti) Blackness in the 21st century and has served as a rallying call to organize Black youth for justice. 

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, #BlackLivesMatter has become a refrain that unequivocally reminds us that we cannot afford to divorce our fights for racial, gender, LGBT, economic, immigration or disability justice from our personal identities. In the profound wisdom of Audre Lorde, “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not lead single-issue lives.”

If we as LGBT people believe that #BlackLivesMatter, issues of police violence, mass incarceration, education equity, income inequality and healthcare equity are LGBT issues. We also must recognize that people who are impacted most by these barriers are often LGBT people, especially LGBT people of color. 

#BlackLivesMatter started a conversation on and off the Internet about what racial justice means. More people now, more than ever, recognize that its time to demand legal, social and cultural justice, dignity and respect.

As we commemorate the legacy of Black history in America, let’s look forward to a future where all people, regardless of race, are treated with dignity and respect.

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