When Patrisse Cullors co-founded Black Lives Matter in 2013, she and those with her promised to work for a world where Black lives were no longer systematically targeted for demise.
Led by Cullors, an artist, organizer and performance artist from Los Angeles, the group boldly affirmed the humanity of African Americans and their contributions to society — all while demonstrating a remarkable resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
Perhaps unplanned, but certainly timely, is Cullors’ new book, “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.”
Even prior to its Jan. 16 release date, the memoir is listed on Amazon.com as the No. 1 new release in African-American and Black biographies.
“This remarkable book reveals what inspired Patrisse’s visionary and courageous activism and forces us to face the consequence of the choices our nation made when we criminalized a generation,” said Michelle Alexander, a New York Times bestselling author. “This book is a must-read for all of us.”
The book arrives on shelves coincidentally just after a 2017 Police Violence Report revealed that Black lives still appear to matter little to law enforcement officials.
In 2017, police killed 1,129 individuals and officers were only charged with a crime in 1 percent of those cases, according to the report. Of the 1,129 killed, 27 percent were Black, despite African-Americans making up just 13 percent of the U.S. population.
The statistics from the Mapping Police Violence report revealed that in 631 of the incidents, officers were responding to nonviolent offenses or when no crime had been reported at all. Eighty-seven killed had stopped for a simple traffic violation.
Most of those unarmed who were killed were individuals of color, the report noted.
Incredibly, there were only 14 days in 2017 when no one was killed by a law enforcement officer.
Cullors’ book asks readers to remember that protest in the interest of the most vulnerable comes from love.
She and the co-founders of the Black Lives Matter movement have been called terrorists, but in truth, they are loving women whose life experiences have led them to seek justice for those victimized by the powerful, Cullors said.
“I am grateful for all the positive and moving reviews this book has been given thus far,” she said. “I’m so honored Amazon gave the book a number 1 release.
“We must continue to challenge a country that kills Black people with impunity and #BlackLivesMatter has stood up courageously to some of the most powerful government agencies in this country,” Cullors said. “I hope this book reinvigorates our work across the globe.”
Co-written with award-winning author and journalist Asha Bandele, the 272-page book sees Cullors reflecting on her life growing up in Van Nuys, California, surrounded by a devoted family and supportive friends, weaving her experiences into the larger picture of how predominantly marginalized neighborhoods are under constant systemic attack.
“To call the founders of BLM terrorists is an unconscionable lie,” said Michael Eric Dyson kn a review of the book. “This strikingly beautiful memoir puts the lie to the notion that Black Lives Matter comes from anything other than a place of love — love of self, community, people, and, ultimately, the very soul of a Democratic nation.
“BLM seeks to acknowledge the truth, and Patrisse Cullors’ story is a moral example to the nation,” Dyson said.
Kryss Shane, a social media consultant, copywriter, author and social worker, said that while it can be easy to assume someone is just out to make money, it should be remembered that Cullors is the voice of a movement, with a platform that affects many.
Shane said Cullors should have a publicist vet media members seeking interviews and comments.
“Cullors cannot possibly be expected to make short statements each time that fully encompass her much larger and lengthier experiences, points, and goals,” Shane said. “Her encouragement that people read her book is not self-focused, it is allowing people to know that there is more she’d like to say and where they can go to hear those words, if they so choose.”