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'Black Lives Matter' Slogan Becomes A Bigger Movement

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'Black Lives Matter' Slogan Becomes A Bigger Movement

'Black Lives Matter' Slogan Becomes A Bigger Movement

'Black Lives Matter' Slogan Becomes A Bigger Movement

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/368408247/368408248" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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When a grand jury in New York did not indict a police officer for the death of Eric Garner, protesters chanted a slogan. They chanted the same slogan after a killing in Ferguson, Missouri.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Back to this country now. When a grand jury did not indict a police officer for the death of Eric Garner, protesters chanted a slogan. They chanted the same slogan after a killing in Ferguson, Missouri. Youth Radio reporter Nishat Kurwa has the history of that slogan.

NISHAT KURWA, BYLINE: Black Lives Matter. It started as a conversation on Facebook between two friends, two black women in two different cities - Oakland and Los Angeles. It was July, 2013. Alicia Garza had been watching television, waiting for the news to come down.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We the jury find George Zimmerman not guilty. So say we all four-person.

ALICIA GARZA: I posted on Facebook in that moment that it wasn't OK for us to not be surprised that someone could not be held accountable for the murder of an unarmed, black teenager. And so I think the note was something like, black people, I love you, I love us, we got us and our lives matter.

KURWA: Garza's friend Patrisse Cullors wrote back adding a hash tag to the three words that stood out the most. The slogan Black Lives Matter was born and picked up. The slogan got noticed and appeared sporadically. People were using it on social media to talk about incidents of racism. And then Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson.

GARZA: Black people all over the country were like, we got to go, we got to go there.

KURWA: Under the slogan Black Lives Matter, Cullors organized hundreds of people from all over the country to travel to Ferguson and join in the protests. Garza says at that point, Black Lives Matter became a part of the larger social and political movement that was developing.

GARZA: We're cracking open this whole thing about policing, and how it happens and how it works.

KURWA: Last week when the St. Louis grand jury announced that it would not indict Wilson, Black Lives Matter become one of the most prominent hash tags related to Ferguson. That day it was mentioned more than 150,000 times on Twitter. And now, just a week and half later, Black Lives Matter is springing up again, surrounding the Eric Garner decision in New York. For NPR News, I'm Nishat Kurwa.

INSKEEP: Who produced the story for Youth Radio.

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