A co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Patrisse Cullors has announced that she is stepping down as executive director of the movement’s foundation which she has led for nearly six years and has distanced attempts by right-wing to discredit her.
The movement which started in 2013 with Black Lives Matter (BLM) as a hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter" has become a global brand. It has over time become a decentralized political and social movement protesting against incidents of police brutality and all racially motivated violence against black people.
#BlackLivesMatter gained further international attention during the global George Floyd protests in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. An estimated 15 million to 26 million people participated in the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the United States, making it one of the largest movements in the country's history.
With all that the movement has achieved alongside backlash and criticism, co-founder Patrisse Cullors disclosed that she is leaving to focus on other projects, including the upcoming release of her second book and a multi-year TV development deal with Warner Bros. “I’ve created the infrastructure and the support, and the necessary bones and foundation, so that I can leave, It feels like the time is right.” - Cullors
She added that "With smart, experienced and committed people supporting the organization during this transition, I know that BLMGNF is in good hands. The foundation's agenda remains the same - eradicate white supremacy and build life-affirming institutions."
Ms Cullors told the AP news agency her resignation had been planned for more than a year and was not related to claims that she had misused donations to acquire her property portfolio. There is no evidence to suggest that she had done so. "Those were right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character, and I don't operate off of what the right thinks about me," she said.
The BLM Foundation told AP in February that it had raised $90m (£63m) amid last year's racial justice protests following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
As she departs, the foundation is bringing aboard two new interim senior executives to help steer it in the immediate future: Monifa Bandele, a longtime BLM organizer and founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement in New York City, and Makani Themba, an early backer of the BLM movement and chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies in Jackson, Mississippi.