we lost giants of the Civil Rights movement, John Lewis, Emma Sanders, Charles Evers, and C.T. Vivian

“We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.” —John Lewis

“People do not choose rebellion, it is forced upon them. Revolution is always an act of self- defense.” —C.T. Vivian

In the past weeks, we lost giants of the Civil Rights movement, John Lewis, Emma Sanders, Charles Evers, and C.T. Vivian. Leaders who blazed a trail for our current uprising in defense of Black lives.

Elders who made it possible for us to reimagine public safety, be bold enough to demand we #DefundPolice, and set forth an unflinching vision for Black lives now and for generations to come.

Our work will always honor and uplift the ancestors and elders who illuminated our path.

I’ve been sitting with this moment of great loss, dreaming about what comes next, and imagining how we can live up to the faith and sacrifices made by Lewis and Vivian in dedicating their lives to Black liberation. They hailed from small towns in the South and Midwest, challenging the authority of white supremacy their whole lives..

What will we—those of us who hopefully have decades of fight left in us, those of us who are still here even as the entire system is designed to kill or limit us—do to honor their memories and uphold their legacies?

It is our turn to carry on the mandate that Lewis, Vivian, and so many more left for us. We honor all the women and men, the queer, trans, nonbinary, disabled, and poor folks—all the freedom fighters without whom the Movement for Black Lives would not be possible.

Poll after poll in recent weeks tells us that the American people are ready for change. The New York Times found that support for our movement has grown faster in the last month than it has in the last two years.

We’ve been charting a course from protest to power to the polls to build toward this summer’s Black National Convention. Since May, the U.S. has seen one of the longest series of protests in the country’s history. We learned from our elders that protests are a necessary means to reach our goals. The 1963 March on Washington was one of the largest political rallies in U.S. history, and it helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

  • Now, we are poised to make the BREATHE Act, a modern-day civil rights bill that will defund the police and invest in Black communities, a reality.
  • This week, we joined partners at SEIU, Rising Majority, and more to Strike for Black Lives, mobilizing tens of thousands in 160 cities and 12 countries to demand justice and an end to racism and exploitation throughout our society, economy, and workplaces.
  • Next month, we’ll host the 2020 Black National Convention where we’ll set a Black agenda to lead our work, no matter who sits in the White House in January 2021.
  • During Black August, we will also launch our full Vision for Black Lives policy platform to clearly state our demands for how we win and build the world of our dreams.

We’re gearing up for a Freedom Summer to build local power toward the vision for Black lives, continuing the legacy of John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, Charles Evers, Emma Sanders, and the Freedom Summer of 1964.

We’re inspired by the bravery and resilience of our ancestors. We’re taking risks, along with the necessary precautions, to transform our communities—not only for ourselves but for the next generation. We seek to leave the same legacy for them that our elders left for us.

Help us build the world our ancestors dreamed of. Take action with us today!

  • Register for the 2020 Black National Convention at BlackNovember.org.
  • Share our posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
  • Text DEFEND TO 90975 to receive our calls to action.
  • Support the demands of Chicago’s #DefundCPD campaign by amplifying their action tomorrow on Facebook and Instagram

In solidarity,

Kayla Reed, Co-Founder and Political Strategist
Electoral Justice Project of the Movement for Black Lives

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