Photo: Beata Zawrzel / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  07.13.2018

“The one thing I remember from that evening, other than crying myself to sleep that night, was the way in which as a black person, I felt incredibly vulnerable, incredibly exposed and incredibly enraged,” said Alicia Garza, one of the three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, to The Guardian back in 2015. This night signaled the darkest turn in modern America’s story. The night of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Mountains of evidence and racial motives aside, Black America waited with baited breath for 16 hours as the jury deliberated on whether the shooting was justified or not. He walked away without a blemish.

Previously, when 17-year-old Martin’s life was stolen, former president Barack Obama issued, at the Rose Garden, perhaps his most racially-charged statement of his time in office. “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” The brief, emotionally-revealing comment came hidden within a statement looking to bring peace to the nation whilst revealing that he wasn’t holding his own black card too close to the chest. But he didn’t have this same luxury once the law of the land’s verdict reached the ears of the dominion. His tune, when addressing the public after the verdict, was grim, but traces of restrained anger could be extrapolated from his words. “The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America,” the statement reads. “I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.” For as much as even Obama wanted to act, the laws that gifted him control of the ship prevented him from participating in deck problems.

Alicia Garza left the bar that she’d been viewing the final verdict at and exhaustion weighed over her to the point that she was on the brink of weariness. Not the physical kind from overexertion, but the mental, emotional baggage that comes with dealing with forever being less worthy. The shit show that black Americans deal with on a daily basis, yet can’t do anything about, because the country wasn’t designed with black lives ever holding relevance in the first place, 242 years ago. History classes may tell you that slavery ended in 1865 and that segregation and discrimination came to an end in 1964, but the hateful, racially-charged mindsets that permeated these times still exist.

Garza arrived at home, bereft with heavy emotions, and took to Facebook to talk to, and only to, the black body. Her heartfelt, passionate message ended with: “Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter.” Near immediately, her words began to spark passion in both friends and other people sharing their exhaustion with existing in this space. Close friend, and community organizer for prison reform, Patrisse Cullors, shared her passion and anger, spreading her message while using the hashtag #blacklivesmatter, shorting Garza’s message down to the three words that, for the last 1,500 years or so, have gone misunderstood. When they reached out to Opal Tometi, another fiery activist in the field of immigrant rights, to help breathe air into the growing movement, it became more than a slogan on social media —it became the first glimpse of a utopia from hell on Earth.

The constructions of black lives were beginning to draw attention from other blacks that shared experiences previously not collectively organized, so much of the incidents that transfixed communities never made it to the national level. But now, stories were being told and people were listening. Tumblr and Twitter, two platforms that give users the ability to explore narratives with words, bled with the movement’s hashtag and empowering statements and stories of why black lives mattered.

In October of 1966, Bobby Seale and Huey Newton would have been ecstatic at the idea of Black Lives Matter. The racial travesties that we deal with in contemporary times come with solidarity and understanding from like-minded individuals; but in the racially-charged era of post-civil rights America, tensions were higher and teamwork was decidedly less. Police brutality that had become even worse for African Americans after the Civil Rights era beckoned swift change from angry recipients of hate from white America. Originally christened the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the organization was founded by young urban blacks searching for economic and political power in ways that the Civil Rights movement couldn’t guarantee for its people. The way that it would gain respect would be to forcefully extract it from the carcasses of hateful law enforcement. Armed citizens would patrol Oakland, California, clad in the deepest of blacks, appearing as the symbolic representation of death that they administered. Bleak violence such as Huey Newton’s alleged killing of Officer John Frey in 1967 and Eldridge Cleaver’s ambush of police officers led to the party getting the ominous, fearful edge that provided African Americans with similar mindsets to fuel the group’s ascent.

By 1970, the group had 68 offices across the country. They were the villains to white America—Federal Bureau of Investigation Director J. Edgar Hoover, at one time, referred to them as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country”—while heroes to the black community. Though it dwindled in membership due to internal strife and violent tendencies that reached a frenzy point, by 1982, the party was largely nonexistent. Its lasting legacy being that black Americans weren’t going to roll over and accept a lesser existence ; in conjunction with the Civil Rights movement, no matter what the circumstances, blacks would willingly fight against racial injustice whether with words or with weapons.

Black Lives Matter picks up at the intersection of the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Panther Party’s own focus. Instead of guns, phones are used to attack police brutality and oppression by modern-day members, with the determination to even out the scales of equality being the uniting factor between all three groups. The structure of BLM is decentralized and incorporates not just blacks, but anyone that identifies with the message that’s being translated. Yes, all lives hold equal meaning. But black lives, the ones that are regularly pit at a lower stoop than others, matter. And for that, we’ll scream to the top of the mountains.

Besides direct protesting action, one convention available to current protestors that wasn’t available to either of BLM’s ancestors is the use of the internet to infiltrate the media — mainly social media. When a large percentage of traffic comes from social media, it’s safe to say that it rules over the popular domain. Successfully translating a message through it means that it can spread farther and faster. Black Lives Matter holds mastery in this facet with, in 2016, the phrase “Black Lives Matter” being tweeted a total of 30 million times up to that point. Currently, according to a recently released Pew study, the hashtag is used nearly 17,000 times per day. Its focus on social media and direct action extended to the 2016 election, with both Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton incorporating discussions about the group’s message into their campaigns.

As it stands currently, Black Lives Matter has become a cultural phenomenon that has infiltrated the very backbone of society. The problematic events that continue to showcase a bleak future for racial relations in the world continue to happen and, at every corner, the group rears its head, ready to combat. It’s also sparked an increased interest in activism itself, showcasing that peaceful protest that may not have achieved the desired effects years ago can work today to increase awareness of important situations.

The work of an organization determined to increase the peace has shown the importance of the African American life in the United States, as well as the larger world around it, and brought a sense of closure to the activist groups before it. The benevolent work of Civil Rights leaders was often at odds with the more hands-on approach of The Black Panther Party, but through the passionate work of Black Lives Matter activists, both sides are equally translated through them, resulting in what will be the proper course of action for the community in the long term. Thanks to Black Lives Matter, the world, although still hesitant, will grow to understand what blacks have been trying to explain for years.

More by Trey Alston:



View More



View More


Walmart has the home essentials for everyone on your holiday shopping list

Below, our gift guide highlights some of our favorite Walmart finds for anyone in need of a home refresh.

  /  11.24.2023

5 things you need to know about the 2023 Billboard Music Awards

“REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy Rue counts down the top five moments from the 2023 Billboard Music Awards, including surprising wins, historic firsts, and dope performances. Sponsored by Amazon.

  /  11.20.2023

Dig In & Drink Up | 'Bet on Black'

In this new episode of ‘Bet on Black,’ food and beverage take center stage as aspiring Black entrepreneurs from It’s Seasoned, Black Farmer Box, and Moors Brewing Co. present their business ideas to judges with mentorship from Melissa Butler. Watch here!

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicks off at Central State University

On Oct. 10, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University.

  /  11.14.2023

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour visited Mississippi Valley State University

The Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour made its final stop at Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) and left a lasting impact on students and alumni alike.

  /  11.22.2023

The Auditions | 'Shoot Your Shot'

The competition begins at REVOLT WORLD as rising rappers, singers, and musicians line up to audition for their spot on the main stage. Brought to you by McDonald’s.

  /  11.28.2023

Walmart continues HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour during lively Virginia State University stop

After unveiling their state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University, Walmart brought the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to Virginia State University (VSU) on Oct. 13.

  /  11.14.2023

Walmart HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour brings attention and wisdom to North Carolina Central University

On Oct. 17, Walmart brought the third stop of the HBCU Black & Unlimited Tour to North Carolina Central University (NCCU).

  /  11.15.2023

Walmart's HBCU Black and Unlimited Tour kicked off at Central State University

In October, Walmart unveiled a brand new, state of the art creative studio on the campus of Central State University. The HBCU located in Wilberforce, OH was the first stop on Walmart’s Black and Unlimited HBCU Tour.

  /  11.28.2023

Walmart brings in heavy-hitters for Black and Unlimited Tour panel

REVOLT is continuing its impactful partnership with Walmart by teaming up to showcase Black creatives at HBCUs all-across America. The panel consisted of three experienced, accomplished Black HBCU alumni: Actor and media personality Terrence J, entertainment attorney John T. Rose, and actress and “REVOLT Black News” correspondent Kennedy-Rue McCullough.

  /  11.30.2023

Dr. Jaqueline Echols' mission to cure environmental racism

The health of a community can often be traced to the health of the environment that surrounds it. In Atlanta, a woman named Dr. Jaqueline Echols has dedicated her life to helping ensure that people in economically underserved communities have clean rivers – for better health and for the joy of outdoor recreational space.

  /  12.01.2023

Investing in stocks in a recession | 'Maconomics'

Host Ross Mac provides useful advice for preparing your personal finances in the event of a recession. He emphasizes the importance of budgeting properly, building an emergency fund, and maintaining discipline when investing.

  /  11.21.2023

Walmart's Makers Studio at REVOLT WORLD transformed passion into progress

Take a look inside the Makers Studio presented by Walmart at REVOLT WORLD, a space where Black creators could hone in on their brand and see it come to life.

  /  12.04.2023

Pheelz talks expressing himself through music & his biggest inspirations | 'On In 5'

On this all-new episode of “On In 5,” multitalented Nigerian artist Pheelz opens up about waiting for his opportunity to fully express himself through music, his inspirations and emotions, and the musical icons he grew up admiring. Watch!

  /  07.11.2023

Walmart's Opportunity Center at REVOLT WORLD empowered HBCU students

Fly Guy DC taps in with REVOLT WORLD attendees to learn what the Opportunity Center, presented by Walmart, means to them and their futures.

  /  12.04.2023

Tiffany Haddish on therapy, wild fan interactions & the upcoming 'Haunted Mansion' movie | 'The Jason Lee Show'

On this all-new episode of “The Jason Lee Show,” the one and only Tiffany Haddish sits for a must-watch conversation about wild interactions with fans, her new movie ‘Haunted Mansion,’ bringing her therapist on dates, and being present. Watch the hilarious interview here.

  /  07.12.2023

16 best hip hop video games of all time

From Def Jam: Vendetta, Wu-Tang: Shaolin Style, DJ Hero and more, we list our favorite hip hop videos games of all time. Did yours make the cut? 

  /  11.06.2023

Kareem Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke & networking | 'The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels'

On this all-new episode of “The Blackprint with Detavio Samuels,” the host and REVOLT CEO sits down with Kareem Cook. Throughout the introspective episode, Cook talks growing up in The Bronx, studying at Duke and being nervous to be in the South at the time, network vs. education, taking advantage of your opportunities, and connecting with Debbie Allen. Watch!

  /  07.10.2023

DDG has his sights set on becoming a fashion hero & talks Halle Bailey being his "best friend"

In this exclusive interview, DDG opens up about his fashion inspiration, what drew him to girlfriend Halle Bailey, dealing with negative opinions about his relationship, and more. Read up!

  /  11.28.2023

BNXN talks leaving IT for music, linking with Wizkid, going viral & new album | 'On In 5'

For this all-new episode of “On In 5,” singer-songwriter BNXN discusses his journey from IT to music, finding his voice and originality, linking up with Wizkid for their hits “Mood” and “Many Ways,” and what fans can expect from him this year — including a new album. Watch the full episode here!

  /  08.08.2023
View More
Revolt - New Episodes