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Black Lives Matter is a Human Rights Issue

Gerald Lenoir

15 Sep 2023

In 2015, Opal Ayo Tometi, one of the three Black women who co-founded Black Lives Matter (BLM), along with this author, co-authored an article on the Time magazine website titled, “Black Lives Matter is Not a Civil Rights Movement.” In that piece, we argued that the Black Lives Matter Movement has been described as the “New Civil Rights Movement” by the media and political pundits. However, characterizing BLM as such is far too narrow and limiting. Like the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements before it, as well as the Abolitionist Movement, it is fundamentally a movement for basic human rights as enshrined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.1 The founders of BLM have described it as such, much like how the leaders of the Civil Rights and the Black Power movements did. BLM is the historical successor of those movements.

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Gerald Lenoir is the Identity and Politics Strategy Analyst at the Othering and Belonging Institute, UC Berkeley. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He studied Law at UCLA and Marketing at the Graduate School of Business, University of Washington, Seattle. Gerald is the founding Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (2006– 2014). He was the Director of the San Francisco Black Coalition on AIDS (1989– 1995) and cofounded the HIV Education and Prevention Project of Alameda County. He also cofounded Priority Africa Network and serves on the board of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Gerald’s opinion pieces on racial justice, immigration, apartheid, electoral politics, and HIV/AIDS have appeared in, Black Scholar Magazine, The Oakland Tribune, The Los Angeles Sentinel, The Seattle Times, New America Media,, and