Black Lives Matter protestGetty Images

Black Lives Matter: the first movement to win the Sydney Peace Prize

Tomasz Frymorgen
Share this:

The Black Lives Matter movement has been awarded the prestigious Sydney Peace Prize.

It’s the first time that a movement, rather than an individual, has received the award since it was established in 1998.

The Australian prize, "recognises the vital contributions of leading global peacemakers, creates a platform so that their voices are heard, and supports their vital work for a fairer world".

Previous recipients include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the environmental campaigner Naomi Klein and Noam Chomsky, a linguist and political activist.

Black Lives Matter was founded in the US in 2012 by Opal Tometi, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, following the killing of the black teenager Trayvon Martin.

He was fatally shot by a self-appointed neighbourhood watchman, George Zimmerman, who was acquitted of Martin's murder- a decision that prompted widespread outrage.

BLM founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal TometiGetty Images

Black Lives Matter was created in the story’s wake. Starting out as a Twitter hashtag, it quickly gained traction after a series of high-profile killings of black Americans at the hands of the police and white supremacists.

The movement spread throughout the US before expanding internationally. It now has 39 chapters worldwide, including in the UK.

According to its website, "#BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society."

Black Lives Matter protestGetty Images

The Sydney Peace Foundation said they were awarding the Peace Prize to Black Lives Matter, "for building a powerful movement for racial equality, courageously reigniting a global conversation around state violence and racism".

Naomi Klein, who won the 2016 Sydney Peace Prize, said the BLM founders, "embody the core principle of the Sydney Peace Prize: that there will never be peace without real justice".

"This is an inspired, bold and urgent choice – and it’s exactly what our moment of overlapping global crises demands,” Klein said.