The 50th anniversary of the first pride looks a whole lot different than anyone could have predicted. First when the COVID-19 pandemic led to a domino effect of cancelations as the need for public health measures became a necessary tool in combatting the virus, then when the LGBTQ community stood in solidarity in protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
The Black Lives Matter movement has not and will not lose steam until real action is taken to address America's continued history of racism and violence against African Americans, and now pride organizations are organizing peaceful, safety-focused marches in place of parades and parties.
As a new generation of young, queer people become engaged in anti-racist activism, there's never been a better time to spotlight these six Black, queer trailblazers who are committed to reshaping the world for the better.
6. Patrisse Cullors
As a teenager, Patrisse Cullors already realized her power to make an impact. Despite being forced out of her home at 16 when she came out to her family as queer, Cullors became active in the Bus Riders Union, a grassroots organization focused on changing the policies of public transportation authorities that it views as racial discrimination.
And the UCLA grad’s streak in community organizing was far from over.
Following the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, a white man who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a Black, unarmed teenager, Cullors founded Black Lives Matter along with friends and fellow activists Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. What started as a social media hashtag grew to inspire a national community outraged over Martin’s senseless death, Zimmerman’s freedom and the systemic racism that allows for it and countless events like it to go unchecked.
The movement grew to include more than 30 local chapters and remained active through the 2016 presidential election. It’s made global headlines and gained even stronger momentum this year during the protests of George Floyd‘s death by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Cullors has remained a vocal advocate for change, focusing her sights on the abuse of inmates at the hands of prison guards and restructuring the nation’s law enforcement system.
Speaking recently to the Chicago Tribune, Cullors said:
Law enforcement should not be the first responder for mental-health crises, they shouldn’t be the first responders for drug and alcohol abuse; there are a significant number of public health crises that law enforcement are forced to be the first responders to but should not be, and we could actually reallocate those dollars and give them back to the community. I’m talking about renegotiation of where we prioritize our money. Right now it’s mostly prisons and police, and we want to reallocate those dollars and put them into the community.