University of Colorado students, faculty and interested community heard from the three founders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement by video Wednesday night.
Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza started the social media hashtag in July 2013 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in Florida in the shooting death of unarmed Black teen Trayvon Martin. It grew into a movement the next year as Ferguson, Mo., erupted in protest and flames over the shooting death of Michael Brown, another unarmed Black man killed by police.
Colorado Politics intended to cover the speech, but the online link was closed to everyone but students and faculty, organizers explained on the CU Distinguished Speakers Board Facebook page.
"Unfortunately, we are unable to provide this event to community members or the public," the board stated. "Our contract stipulates the event can’t be recorded or distributed publicly. Additionally, this event is paid for by CU Boulder student fees. it is important that we center the audience to be current students as we feel the message should be heard and valued by our current students. That is our current priority."
The preface text to her TED Talk online starts with this mention:
"Alicia Garza launched a global movement with a single Facebook post that ended with the words: “Black lives matter.”
Garza is an organizer, writer and "freedom dreamer," her bio continues.
She is the special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, a national advocacy organization.
Cullors calls herself a "freedom fighter."
She also is an artist and political organizer in Los Angeles, and the founder and chair of Reform L.A. Jails.
It was revealed this week that Meghan Markle is pitching a documentary about Cullors and BLM as part of her and Prince Harry’s $100 million development deal with Netflix.
Tometi is a Nigerian-American human rights advocate, strategist and writer who is the executive director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, the oldest U.S. immigrant rights organization for people of African descent.
Not everyone was pleased with the school's affiliation with the movement, however.
"Christ matters! BLM is a Marxist organization," Stuart Van Kooten of Denver posted on the Distinguished Speakers Board's website Tuesday. "They are out to destroy our nation and they will kill those of us who fight them. May they rot in Hell."
The conservative Washington Examiner in July said Black Lives Matter was bigger than President Trump, who sees them as his nemesis, or Democratic nominee Joe Biden, citing a Rasmussen poll that suggest 62% of likely voters viewed it favorably and only 32% had an unfavorable view.
"This demonstrates that there is a national consensus that the lives of black fellow citizens matter, which has not always been the case in our history," wrote Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy. "It also suggests strong support for better, fairer policing in minority communities.
"But that seems far more likely to be because large majorities believe in the principle of the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equal rather than because they support the agenda of the organization with the innocuous-sounding name, Black Lives Matter."
The article goes on to cite alleged radical associations of the founders and passages from their past statements and writings. You can read it by clicking here. (The Washington Examiner and Colorado Politics are owned by Clarity Media Group.)
"The co-founders of Black Lives Matter are avowed Marxists," the journalist wrote.
The Boulder-linked discussion was a joint production of the student-led Cultural Events Board and CU's Distinguished Speakers Board.
The student-led organizations over the years has brought to Boulder a wide variety of speakers, from Madeline Albright and Kofi Anan to B.B. King and Bill Nye, the science guy.
In 2016, the series hosted Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked troves of classified information about government surveillance programs during the Obama administration. He remains in exile in Moscow, facing federal espionage charges in the U.S.