Alicia Garza is an organizer, writer and freedom dreamer. She is the special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation's leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. She is also the co-creator of #BlackLivesMatter, an international movement and organizing project focused on combatting anti-black state-sanctioned violence.
Garza's work challenges us to celebrate the contributions of black queer women's work within popular narratives of black movements and reminds us that the black radical tradition is long, complex and international. Her activism connects emerging social movements, without diminishing the structural violence facing black people.
Garza has been the recipient of many awards for her organizing work, including the Root 100 2015 list of African-American achievers and influencers. She was also featured in the Politico50 guide to the thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics in 2015. She lives and works in Oakland, California.
Patrisse Cullors is an artist, organizer and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. While she is a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Network, and she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, writer and mother. Cullors brings her full self to this work and wants to use her talents to both grow the Network and its diverse leadership. Cullors serves the Network primarily on the field team and utilizes her energy for leadership development, political strategy and relationship building with chapters based on commitment and shared reciprocity. She is focused on deepening the Network's political work, both long-term and rapid response, specifically around legislation and policy.
Opal Tometi is a New York-based Nigerian-American writer, strategist and community organizer. She is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter. The historic political project was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin in order to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-black racism, and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all black lives. Tometi is credited with creating the project's online platforms and initiating the social media strategy during its early days. The campaign has grown into a national network of approximately 50 chapters.
Tometi is currently at the helm of the country's leading black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). Founded in 2006, BAJI is a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African and Caribbean immigrant communities. As the executive director at BAJI, Tometi collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington, DC and communities throughout the southern states. The organization's most recent campaign helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake. BAJI is an award-winning institution with recognition by leading intuitions across the country.
A transnational feminist, Tometi supports and helps shape the strategic work of Pan African Network in Defense of Migrant Rights, and the Black Immigration Network international and national formations respectively, dedicated to people of African descent. She has presented at the United Nations and participated with the UN's Global Forum on Migration and Commission on the Status of Women. Tometi is being featured in the Smithsonian's new National Museum for African American History and Culture for her historic contributions.
Prior to becoming executive director, Tometi worked as co-director and communications director at BAJI. Her contributions include leading organizing efforts for the first ever black-led rally for immigrant justice and the first Congressional briefing on black immigrants in Washington, DC. Additionally, she coordinated BAJI's work as launch partner with Race Forward's historic "Drop the I-Word" campaign, working with the campaign to raise awareness about the importance of respectful language and history through the lens of the Great Migration, the Civil Rights Movement and current migration of the black diaspora. Tometi has been active in social movements for over a decade. She is a student of liberation theology and her practice is in the tradition of Ella Baker, informed by Stuart Hall, bell hooks and black Feminist thinkers. She was a lead architect of the Black-Brown Coalition of Arizona and was involved in grassroots organizing against SB 1070 with the Alto Arizona campaign. Tometi is a former case manager for survivors of domestic violence and still provides community education on the issue.
Tometi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and a Masters of Arts degree in communication and advocacy. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. She currently resides in the Brooklyn, New York where she loves riding her single speed bike and collecting African art.
Mia Birdsong has spent more than 30 years fighting and loving for social justice and liberation. She is the Co-Director of Family Story, an organization working to expand our understanding of what makes a "good" family to include a diversity of arrangements. Before Family Story, Mia was Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative (FII), which uses data to illuminate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives. At FII, she created and curated the Torchlight Prize, an award for groups of regular people working together to strengthen their own communities. Birdsong also co-founded Canerow, a resource for people dedicated to raising children of color in a world that reflects the spectrum of who they are.
An avid generalist, Birdsong's wide-range of experience includes volunteering and organizing for the prison abolition organization Critical Resistance, years spent in the publishing industry, working in the youth development and health education field as a trainer and educator, apprenticing as a midwife, studying and practicing herbal medicine, building houses, and performing country music.
A frequent speaker and writer on low-income families and communities, social capital, and collective self-organizing, Mia has been published in the Stanford Innovation Review, the Huffington Post, On Being and The Good Men Project. She has also guest lectured at UC Berkeley.
She is a graduate of Oberlin College and an Ascend Fellow of the Aspen Institute. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center and the North Oakland Community Charter School.