Three years ago today, Black Lives Matter was founded as an effort to speak out against injustice and police violence. Since that time, it has grown into a modern day civil rights movement dedicated to reaffirming the value of black lives.
It began in 2012 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman for fatally shooting Trayvon Martin, a black teenager. Activists took to the streets and social media to protest the decision with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” echoing through Twitter and cities around the country.
Since 2012, the movement has grown and inspired large numbers of people to take a stand against inequality and injustice.
Black Lives Matter, however, is not without its critics. From news hosts to politicians to Twitter users, Black Lives Matter has been criticized for “inciting violence” against police and attempting to start a “race war.”
There is also an effort to co-opt and derail the movement by rebutting Black Lives Matter with “All Lives Matter,” a response that has been widely criticized as missing the point.
To celebrate the movement’s anniversary, a major Black Lives Matter Twitter asked, “In a world where #BlackLivesMatter, what do you imagine?”
— Black Lives Matter (@Blklivesmatter) July 13, 2016
Some responses focused on the cultural appropriation of black culture that co-opts and takes aspects of Black culture for entertainment or profit without actually valuing black lives. This critique was recently voiced by actor Jesse Williams, who gave a speech on human rights and black lives at the BET Awards last month, and called out the exploitation of Black culture and entertainment.
I imagine living in a world where our black lives are just as valued as the culture we create every day
— André Swami (@TheVoid217) July 13, 2016
A world where Black creativity is valued, celebrated, and compensated until our imaginations reshape reality. https://t.co/0uipuIHLcP
— Torraine Walker (@TorraineWalker) July 13, 2016
Many other responses focused on the impact that violence has on black children.
Day when youth can turn their brilliance away from strategic survival toward being active participants on the global stage.
— Benzai10👩🏿📷⚖⛩🤓 (@ThunkinOutloud) July 13, 2016
A world where I am not afraid to have children https://t.co/x094t8baGc
— Rosanna (@sober_mich) July 13, 2016
When #BlackLivesMatter, kids won't need training on how to act safely in police encounters bc safety from police is a given.
— agent p (@thedrtaylor) July 13, 2016
Others imagined a time that protests, like the ones that followed the recent police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, wouldn’t be necessary:
No longer having to take to the streets to defend something so basic as black people's right to live.
— Brittney 🍁 (@BrittneyBush) July 13, 2016
A world where I'm not considered dangerous before I've even been talked to.
— Advocate 4 Ewoks (@chuckbarnesjr) July 13, 2016
being able to easily cast my vote
— Nola Magic (@crystalwalker33) July 13, 2016
A world where we can breathe.
— Aladdin's Lamp ✨ (@brandelah_) July 13, 2016
Celisa Calacal is an intern with ThinkProgress.