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Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors resigns amidst controversy

“It feels like the time is right,” Patrisse Cullors said.

Patrisse Cullors Getty

Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Patrisse Cullors is exiting the civil rights organization she helped start in 2013.

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) announced Thursday (May 27) that Cullors, who served as executive director, would be “transitioning from her role.”

Cullors was previously the last remaining co-founder after Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi walked away from the network of activists. The 37-year-old Los Angeles native is leaving to focus on other projects, including her forthcoming second book and a multi-year TV development deal with Warner Bros, The Associated Press reports.

“I’ve created the infrastructure and the support, and the necessary bones and foundation, so that I can leave,” Cullors told AP. “It feels like the time is right.

In a news release, BLMGNF listed several milestones Cullors helped the foundation reach during her tenure.

She was influential in launching BLM Grassroots, the sister organization to BLMGNF. She formed the BLM Political Action Committee to increase voter participation and turnout, and to endorse candidates who promote Black liberation and Cullors championed The Breathe Act, federal legislation that proposed divesting taxpayer dollars from brutal and discriminatory policing and investing it in a new vision of public safety.

The organization will move forward with the support of two Senior Executives: Makani Themba, Chief Strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies and Monifa Bandele, Chief Operating Officer at Time’s Up Foundation. Both women have supported BLM and assisted as advisors since its inception.

“With smart, experienced and committed people supporting the organization during this transition, I know that BLMGNF is in good hands,” said Cullors. “The foundation’s agenda remains the same — eradicate white supremacy and build life-affirming institutions. Between the two Senior Executives and BLM Grassroots Co-Director Melina Abdullah, who is an original member of BLM and co-founder of its first chapter in Los Angeles, their immense talent will build a future where Black lives do more than matter — they will truly thrive.”

Cullors’ departure is in the midst of controversy regarding donations to the org. When an AP report revealed the foundation received $90 million in donations following the protests that swept the nation last summer, the family of Michael Brown and other Ferguson activists requested $20 million from BLM. Critics also called out Cullors and others for hoarding the funds.

“Those were right-wing attacks that tried to discredit my character, and I don’t operate off of what the right thinks about me,” Cullors told AP. She reportedly was planning her resignation for more than a year.

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