Black Lives Matter is often called a “civil rights” movement. But to think that our fight is solely about civil rights is to misunderstand the fundamental aspirations of this movement.
Opal Tometi’s interest in immigration reform was born out of personal experience. Tometi grew up in Phoenix—”ground zero for the anti-immigration movement,” she says—and is the child of immigrants. Her parents moved to the U.S. from Nigeria in 1983, and Tometi, 30, was raised in a close-knit community of Nigerian immigrants.
Meet Opal Tometi, a first generation Nigerian American who is making her mark as the Executive Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration.
Opal Tometi, like her cohorts, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, is invested in taking Black Lives Matter beyond police brutality, and her work addresses everything from mass criminalization to the adverse impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on communities of color.
How did three words launch a modern-day civil rights movement? The phrase was coined in 2013, in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of the black 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.