Black Lives Matter Nashville Organizers Draw on King’s Legacy, Join In Weekend of Regional Actions


Monday, January 18, 2016



NASHVILLE, TN –Today, in celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Black Lives Matter Nashville hosted our 2nd Poor People’s March to continue to fight against police brutality, state-sanctioned killing of Black people by law enforcement, poverty, under-education, healthcare disparities, criminalization by for-profit prison systems and corrupt political systems that continue to disproportionately affect black, brown, poor and working class people.

Thirty years ago, for the first time, Americans officially observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a holiday commemorating the life, work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. With the indelible support of Black women like Ella Baker and gay rights activists like Bayard Rustin, King’s philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience and direct action incited a national dialogue and political uprising that cemented a radical Black tradition of protest and dissent in the face of American racism and violence. Black people from Montgomery to Detroit rebelled against state-sanctioned disenfranchisement, segregation, and the vile and repeated murders of Blacks by the police and white supremacists vigilantes. King, and many others, lived and died working to elevate, honor, and defend the right for Black people to not only live, but also thrive in America.

In the three decades since, policymakers have waged an aggressive assault on Black people. Lawmakers have not only denied Black people fundamental rights like voting and employment, but have perniciously turned a blind eye to the violent and continuous murders of Black cisgender and transgender women, men, and children by law enforcement and racist vigilantes – effectively sanctioning the warrantless stalking, harassing, and killing of Black people in America. Drawing on the work of Dr. King, Ella Baker, and Bayard Rustin, the Black organizers of today are resisting state-sanctioned violence and calling for meaningful transformative change that reflects the needs of Black communities; change that demands a divestment in systems rooted in anti-Black racism like law enforcement and jailing and an investment in education, economic justice, and safe and just immigration into the United States.

Dr. King’s legacy, and the legacy of those who fought alongside him, is rooted in the Black radical tradition of protest and dissent, and in the half century since, we’ve seen systemic erasure of their bold and visionary work. In Nashville, we’ve seen our so-called city leaders, clergy, and government officials line up, year after year, in the city’s march to commemorate a sanitized, white-washed version of Dr. King that does nothing more than uphold status quo.

This weekend, organizers and activists committed to reclaiming, sustaining and uplifting the real legacy of MLK and the liberation of Black people, have engaged in activities to confront state violence against Black communities. From New York to Colorado, Long Beach to Washington DC, there will be no business as usual as we demand transformative change and hold accountable those who refuse us the dignity and power we deserve.  


Activists from across the movement for Black lives are engaging in #ReclaimMLK actions around the country to call for divestment from broken criminal justice institutions that drain our communities of potential solutions. Learn more about the weekend’s events at


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