In a visit originally planned for Black Awareness Month, Alicia Garza—social justice activist, community organizer and co-founder of Black Lives Matter—told the story about the Black Lives Matter movement and its impact on society Thursday evening at the University of Miami. But she was focused on the future.
“It’s 2017… Four years since Black Lives Matter came onto the scene,” Garza said. “We’re at a different moment now. It’s time for us to pivot into ‘what are we going to do,’ not just how we got here.”
Introduced by student Gabrielle Hand, Garza addressed an audience of more than 150 students, faculty members, and staff gathered in the Donna E. Shalala Student Center grand ballroom.
“I understand blackness as a political language. The only identity politics moving through this country right now are the politics of white identity. Everything black is cool right now, except for black people,” Garza said, eliciting applause, snaps, and excitement from the crowd.
And while Garza hopes that society can eliminate the use of race as a political language, she doesn’t want to live in a color-blind world. “I do want to be seen,” she said.
Addressing the students in the room, Garza urged them to act.
“We need your minds to figure out the biggest problems that our society faces today—your wisdom, your talents, your skills. We need your brilliant minds with some sense of right and wrong,” she said. “Ask yourself: ‘What do I want my legacy to be?’ And know that you can make a career out of making a difference.”
Garza is currently the special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance. She has been named to the Politico50 Guide of Thinkers, Doers, and Visionaries Transforming American Politics, among other honors.
Earlier in the day, Garza spoke as a guest lecturer for the Black Lives Matter interdisciplinary course called “Race, Class, and Power: University Course on Ferguson and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement,” taught at the Miami Law School by Professor Osamudia James.
The evening lecture was sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Division of Student Affairs, Student Life, Multicultural Student Affairs, and Housing and Residential Life.