Black Lives Matter founders to accept Sydney Peace Prize

2 November 2017

Movement founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi are accepting the 2017 City of Sydney Peace Prize at a ceremony in Sydney's Town Hall.

Sydney Peace Prize winners: Black Lives Matter founders Opal Tometi, Patrisse Marie Cullors, and Alicia Garza.

The founders of Black Lives Matter: Opal Tometi, Patrisse Marie Cullors, and Alicia Garza. 



The Black Lives Matter Global Network will be awarded the 2017 Sydney Peace Prize (SPP). Its Founders – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, with Toronto Chapter Leader Rodney Diverlus – are in Australia to collect the Prize at the City of Sydney Lecture and Award Ceremony at Sydney Town Hall tonight.
“To turn a radically inclusive message into a rallying cry for millions of people as the Black Lives Matter Global Network has done requires vision, leadership, heart and courage,” said Archie Law, Chair of the Sydney Peace Foundation.
“Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi and the many other Black Lives Matter leaders challenge us all to rethink, reimagine and reconstruct the societies we live in. This is an urgent and vital challenge, not least here in Australia.”
Since creating the social media hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in 2012, the Black Lives Matter Founders have strategically built the scaffolding of an on-the-ground political network that now has more than 40 chapters worldwide. The movement has become a catalyst for discussion, debate, dissent and personal expression for those who want to see an end to state and racially fuelled violence. Today, Black Lives Matter has developed into a social movement with global reach and relevance.
“We receive this award with tremendous gratitude and in solidarity with organisers throughout Australia who, in the face of egregious oppression, fightback against the state and proclaim that all Black Lives Matter,” said Patrisse Cullors.

Black Lives Matter has developed into a social movement with global reach and relevance.

Black Lives Matter’s focus on social and economic justice has strong relevance to Australia’s First Peoples who face highly disproportionate rates of imprisonment, death while in custody, and low life expectancy in comparison to non-Indigenous Australians. 
“This movement resonates around the globe and here in Australia, where we have become inured to the high incarceration rates and deaths in custody of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s as if their lives do not matter,” said Aboriginal leader, former Commissioner into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, and 2008 Laureate Senator Pat Dodson.
President of Australian South Sea Islanders Port Jackson, Emelda Davis, whose ancestors were brought to Australia as forced labour (‘Blackbirding’), has applauded the Australian recognition of Black Lives Matter and believes its core messages have strong relevance to issues being faced by various black and Indigenous communities in Australia.
“Our untold Australian history of slavery is still unknown to the majority of Australians, but it haunts the minds, hearts and soul of our people. Addressing the hard realities our black and disadvantaged communities face takes guts and tenacity. Black Lives Matter is a bottom-up approach, a call for solidarity and truth telling for First Nations people and Australian South Sea Islanders as two of the most disadvantaged races in Australia,” said Ms Davis.  
The Sydney Peace Prize is Australia’s international prize for peace, awarded by the Sydney Peace Foundation at the University of Sydney with support from the City of Sydney. The Sydney Peace Prize brings the Sydney community together to talk about peace, justice and nonviolence, and to honour some of the world’s most inspiring peacemakers.
Previous recipients of the Sydney Peace Prize include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Arundhati Roy, Senator Pat Dodson, Professor Noam Chomsky, and Naomi Klein.

Purchase tickets for the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture at Sydney Town Hall on Thursday 2 November here, by email or by calling (02) 9351 4468.