Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors steps down as executive director

“Black Lives Matter started as a love letter to Black people and it will continue as that,” Cullors said.

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Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Co-Founder and Executive Director Patrisse Cullors is stepping down from the organization. 

Patrisse Cullors speaks on stage at the Teen Vogue Summit 2019 at Goya Studios on November 02, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for Teen Vogue)

theGrio was there when Cullors shared the announcement during a virtual meeting with journalists and leaders from Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Thursday afternoon.

“This is not a crisis, this is a moment of celebration,” Cullors said. 

Cullors announced that “two powerful, Black women” including Makani Themba and Monifa Bandele will be coming in as senior executives to serve in the interim.

Read More: Patrisse Cullors breaks silence on BLM controversy: ‘It’s harmful and scary’

Makani Themba serves as the chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies and is the former executive director of The Praxis Project. Monifa Bandele serves as the chief operating officer at Time’s Up Foundation and is a senior leader on the policy table of the Movement for Black Lives

Patrisse Cullors announced that “two powerful, Black women,” Makani Themba, right, and Monifa Bandele, left, will be coming in as senior executives to serve in the interim. (Photo: Twitter/MomsRising.org)

“It’s been a powerful eight years,” Cullors said. “Our organization truly has been at the vanguard of what it means to fight for Black liberation, what it means to fight for abolition and I feel proud of so much of the work that we’ve done and proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and I’m looking forward to watching from a different point of view what the organization will continue to accomplish.” 

“As a strong advocate for the transformation of Black lives and the end of white supremacy, I’m eager to continue the foundation’s great work over the coming months,” Bandele said in a press release. “I’m fortunate to follow the creative and successful leadership of so many across the country, who have set a bold path for the foundation.”

“BLM was and continues to be an organization that is centered on our love for Black people,” said Themba. “I am looking forward to working alongside the powerful team at BLMGNF and BLM Grassroots to continue to work towards Black liberation.”

This is not the first time Cullors is pulling herself away from the organization. She shared that in December of 2019, she stepped down to do work in Los Angeles County without making a formal announcement. Black Lives Matter chapters specifically asked her to come back during the 2020 uprisings and she returned, Cullors shared.

“Black Lives Matter started as a love letter to Black people and it will continue as that,” Cullors said.

She added that she made the decision because she felt like it was time to transition out and emphasized that co-founders should not always remain leaders within organizations.

Black Lives Matter co-founders Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, and Alicia Garza
Black Lives Matter co-founders Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors, and Alicia Garza. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images for Glamour)

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Moving forward, Cullors plans to focus on abolition work and her support for artists through a local Black-owned gallery in Inglewood, among other initiatives. She also plans to take a break and spend more time with her 5-year-old who is starting kindergarten in the fall.

“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, along with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, co-founded Black Lives Matter Global Network in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the murder of then 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The organization’s mission, as described on its official website, is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”

The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. is now a global organization with chapters in the U.K. and Canada.

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