One Year After Michael Brown: How A Hashtag Changed Social Protest
The founders of #BlackLivesMatter are working to ensure a lasting legacy for the hashtag beyond protests and brutality
The slogan Black Lives Matter became the rallying cry for protestors across the country in a year marked by police brutality and a new national conversation about it. The three simple words empowered activists who used it at protests and on social media. But one year after Michael Brown’s death catalyzed the movement, much confusion remains about it.
Search queries from Google Trends data provide a telltale sign of the things some Americans are still working to understand about the grassroots movement. Vocativ talked to one of the founders of Black Lives Matter and unearthed the answers to some of the most pressing questions about the hashtag that galvanized a country into action.
Alicia Garza was at a bar in Oakland, California, the night of July 13, 2013, when news broke that George Zimmerman had been acquitted of the second-degree murder of Trayvon Martin.
“After the verdict came out we were silent,” Garza said. “We had nothing to say to each other, so most of us turned to social media for an understanding of what other people were saying to help us form our thoughts and make sense of the emotions that we were feeling that moment. I went on to my Facebook and I saw a whole number of things on my timeline that were related to this verdict, and I saw a whole lot of things that disturbed me.”