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Alicia Garza (born January 4, 1981) is an American civil rights activist and editorial writer from Oakland, California. She has organized around the issues of health, student services and rights, rights for domestic workers, ending police brutality, anti-racism, and violence against trans and gender non-conforming people of color. Her editorial writing has been published by The Guardian,[1] The Nation,[2] The Feminist Wire,[3] Rolling Stone, HuffPost and Truthout. She currently directs Special Projects at the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Garza also co-founded the Black Lives Matter movement.[4][5]

Alicia Garza
Alicia Garza.jpg
Garza in 2016
Born (1981-01-04) January 4, 1981 (age 38)
Florida, California, U.S.
ResidenceOakland, California
OccupationActivist, writer
Known forBlack Lives Matter, People Organized to Win Employment Rights, National Domestic Workers Alliance


Personal life and educationEdit

Garza grew up in a mix-raced household. Beginning in middle school and high school, Alicia Garza began advocating for her classmates to have access to information on reproductive health and contraceptives. [6] Garza graduated in 2002 from the University of California, San Diego with a degree in anthropology and sociology. In 2008, she married Malachi Garza, a transgender male activist. [7]


Black Lives MatterEdit

With Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, Garza birthed the Black Lives Matter movement. Garza is credited with inspiring the slogan when, after the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, she posted on Facebook: "Black people. I love you. I love us. Our lives matter, Black Lives Matter" which Cullors then shared with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Garza's organization Black Lives Matter was spurred on by the deaths of black people by police in recent media and racial disparities within the U.S. criminal justice system. She was also struck by the similarities of Trayvon Martin to her younger brother, feeling that it could have been him killed instead.[8] Garza led the 2015 Freedom Ride to Ferguson, organized by Cullors and Darnell Moore that launched the building of BlackLivesMatter chapters across the United States.[9] Garza self-identifies as a queer woman, and her spouse is biracial and transgender; Garza draws on all of these experiences in her organizing and activism.[10]

Other workEdit

Previously, Garza had served as the director of People Organized to Win Employment Rights in the San Francisco Bay Area. During her time in the position, she won the right for youth to use public transportation for free in San Francisco and also fought gentrification and exposing police brutality in the area.[11] Garza is an active participant in several Bay Area social movement groups. She is on the board of directors of Forward Together's Oakland California branch and is also involved with Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity.[12] She is also on the board of directors for Oakland's School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL).[13]

Notable speechesEdit

  • Garza presented at the 2016 Bay Area Rising event, speaking about the propagation of Black Lives Matter and human rights.[14]
  • On May 26, 2017, Garza delivered a commencement speech, which was dedicated to black women, to 35,000 San Francisco State University Graduate students.[15]

Act of protestEdit

Garza participated in an attempt to stop a Bay Area Rapid Transit train for four and a half hours, a time chosen to reflect the time that Michael Brown's body was left in the street after he was killed. The protesters stopped the train for an hour and a half by chaining themselves both to the inside of the train and the outside, making it impossible for the door to close. The event ended when police removed the protestors by dismantling part of the train.[16]

2016 presidential raceEdit

While Garza has been critical of Donald Trump,[17] she has also been critical of Barack Obama,[18] and Hillary Clinton.[19] She claimed that "The Clintons use black people for votes, but then don't do anything for black communities after they're elected. They use us for photo ops".[20] She voted for Bernie Sanders in the California Democratic Primary, but promised to do everything in her power "to make sure that we are not led by Donald Trump" and she voted for Clinton in the general election.[21][22]

Recognition and awardsEdit

Garza was recognized on the Root 100 list of African American Achievers between the ages of 25 and 45. She was also recognized on the Politico50 2015 guide to Thinkers, Doers, and Visionaries along with Cullors and Tometi.[23]

Garza has received the Local Hero award from the San Francisco Bay Guardian. She has been twice awarded by the Harvey Milk Democratic Club the Bayard Rustin Community Activist Award for her work fighting racism and gentrification in San Francisco. She has also been awarded the Jeanne Gauna Communicate Justice Award from the Centre for Media Justice.[24]

In 2015, Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi (as "The Women of #BlackLivesMatter") were among the nine runners-up for The Advocate's Person of the Year.[25]

In November 2017, Black Lives Matter founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi were awarded the Sydney Peace Prize.[26] And in 2018 Alicia Garza was named in the inaugural cohort of The Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity (AFRE). This first cohort of 29 Atlantic Fellows are focused on challenging racism in the U.S. and South Africa and disrupting the rise of white nationalism and supremacy.[27]


  1. ^ "Profile Alicia Garza". The Guardian. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  2. ^ "Author Alicia Garza". The Nation. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  3. ^ Garza, Alicia. "A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement". The Feminist Wire. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  4. ^ Dalton, Deron. "The Three Women Behind the Black Lives Matter Movement". Madame Noire. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  5. ^ "Meet the woman who coined #BlackLivesMatter". USA Today. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  6. ^ Imani, Blair. Modern HERstory : stories of women and nonbinary people rewriting history (Firstition ed.). ISBN 9780399582233.
  7. ^ "Alicia Garza (1981- ) • BlackPast". BlackPast. February 4, 2018.
  8. ^ Day, Elizabeth. "#BlackLivesMatter: The Birth of a New Civil Rights Movement". The Guardian. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  9. ^ Pleasant, Liz. "Meet the Woman Behind #BlackLivesMatter – the Hashtag that Became a Civil Rights Movement". Yes Magazine. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  10. ^ Gibbons, Honora. "#WomanCrushWednesday: The Women of #BlackLivesMatter". Archived from the original on December 28, 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  11. ^ Pleasant, Liz. "Meet the Woman Behind #BlackLives Matter – The Hashtag that Became a Civil Rights Movement". Yes Magazine. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  12. ^ "Board About". Forward Together. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza - The Feminist Wire". The Feminist Wire. October 7, 2014. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  14. ^ "Alicia Garza Speaking at Bay Area Rising 2016". YouTube. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  15. ^ "Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza represents grad students with powerful speech". youtube. Retrieved September 22, 2017.
  16. ^ Smith, Heather. "Meet the BART-stopping Woman Behind "Black Lives Matter". Grist Magazine. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  17. ^ Givens, Orie (July 22, 2016). "Queer Black Lives Matter Founders Put 'Terrorist' Trump Among 'Worst Fascists in History'". The Advocate. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  18. ^ "Black Lives Matter Co-Founder: Obama Overlooked Black Women". Black Lives Matter. January 18, 2016. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  19. ^ Randall, Amber (August 4, 2016). "BLM Leader Says Clintons Only Use Blacks For Photo-Ops". Daily Caller. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  20. ^ Valentino, Steven (January 16, 2016). "Alicia Garza Says No to Hillary". WYNC. Retrieved August 9, 2016.
  21. ^ Harris-Perry, Melissa. "The #BlackLivesMatter Movement Won't Support Hilary Clinton". The Root. Gizmodo Media Group. Archived from the original on June 7, 2017. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  22. ^ HARRIS-PERRY, MELISSA (October 21, 2016). "Today, Brittany Packnett officially and publicly endorsed Secretary Hillary Clinton for president". Elle. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  23. ^ "The POLITICO 50 - 2017 - Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  24. ^ "Alicia Garza Selected as Communities Choice for Grand Marshal". San Francisco Pride. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  25. ^ Editors (November 5, 2015). "Person of the Year: The Finalists". The Advocate. Retrieved May 30, 2017.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Black Lives Matter founders to be awarded 2017 Sydney Peace Prize". miamiherald. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  27. ^ "Atlantic Fellowship Announcement". Columbia University. November 8, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2018.

External linksEdit