Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors has announced that she’s transitioning out of her role as executive director.
On Thursday, she said on her YouTube channel, “… I feel excited for me, and my next journey.”
Cullors revealed that at the end of 2019 she had stepped back from the organization, but people within BLM asked her to come back during last summer’s uprising.
“I didn’t make a public announcement. I really wanted to see the next generation of leadership lead,” she said.
“I really had to think about it, like, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of responsibility. I love the work, and so yes, I came back, and I’ve been here, and it was always supposed to be interim. And so now is my time,” Cullors said.
Cullors said she is grateful for her years with the organization and is handing the baton to a new generation of leaders.
The acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing Trayvon Martin was a turning point for her activism in 2013.
“I wanted to change the culture that looked at Black people as second class citizens, as subhuman,” she said.
How a hashtag became a movement
The phrase “Black lives matter” almost instantly went viral after Cullors’s friend Alicia Garza created the hashtag in 2013.
“I wanted it to go viral,” Cullors, who co-founded BLM with Garza and Opal Tometi, told CNN in a previous story.
“On July 15th, 2013 I said that Alicia and I had created a thing called #BlackLivesMatter and we hope that it will be bigger than we can ever imagine,” Cullors said. “Over the last seven years we’ve developed more infrastructure and we’ve become more organized.”
After the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, against police brutality in 2014, the organization became more well known. And momentum around the movement grew amid calls for justice following the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd last year.
In 2017 it became incorporated as the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc.
Earlier this year the foundation released its 2020 Impact Report. The foundation in said in the report that it raised over $90 million in 2020 alone, giving about a quarter of it — nearly three times the industry norm — to BLM chapters and local organizations.
“This has been a record-breaking year for fundraising, which has been matched with just as historic an amount in campaign budgets and grant disbursements,” the foundation wrote at time.
Donation averages were around $30 through the foundation’s main fundraising platform, and over 10% of donations were recurring.
During Thursday’s announcement, Cullors said she was confident that the organization she started will thrive.
“One thing that’s important for you to know: We became a large organization, literally, overnight. Most organizations our size take about a year to figure out what they’re going to do so they can manage the money well, so they can manage processes well. So this team is going to take time to really figure out what the next steps are for this org.”
Though she does not detail exactly what is next, Cullors says she plans to spend more time with her 5-year-old and is thrilled with her work in her Master’s of Fine Arts program, creating more content for her YouTube channel, and her local work with the Crenshaw Dairy Mart, an abolitionist-focused art gallery.
She signs off with messages of gratitude and says she is tired from recently receiving her second dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and her immediate next step is to hang out with her child.
CNN has also reached out to Cullors for further comment.