Golden Gate University Law Review


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable . . . every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle, the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.” The Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) movement has a formal presence in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The founders’ outrage at the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who they believed murdered Trayvon Martin in 2013, fueled BLM’s mission to empower Black communities to intervene in the violence inflicted on those communities by both the State and vigilantes and to eradicate white supremacy. Further, BLM goals include “combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy to win immediate improvements.”

The movement seeks to center on those who have been marginalized by previous Black liberation movements. BLM affirms Black queer and trans individuals’ lives and seeks to move Black communities beyond “narrow nationalism.” It also works to create a world where Black lives are not “systematically targeted for demise” and affirm humanity in all of those facing “deadly oppression.” I reached out to two Black civil rights attorneys to give me their perspective on BLM. Both are alumni of Golden Gate University School of Law. The first, Walter Riley, graduated in 1968 and was recommended by Professor Leslie Rose, and the second, Dewitt M. Lacy, spoke in my Criminal Procedure class about his work as a civil rights attorney.