Patrisse Cullors (born June 20, 1983) is an American artist and activist. Cullors is an advocate for prison abolition in Los Angeles and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. She is also a LGBTQ activist.
Early life and education
Cullors was born in Los Angeles, California. She grew up in
Pacoima, a low-income neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley. She became an activist early in life, joining the  Bus Riders Union as a teenager.
Cullors recalls being forced from her home at sixteen when she revealed her
queer identity to her parents. She was involved with the  Jehovah's Witnesses as a child, but later grew disillusioned with the church. She developed an interest in the Nigerian religious tradition of Ifá, incorporating its rituals into political protest events. She told an interviewer:
For me, seeking spirituality had a lot to do with trying to seek understanding about my conditions—how these conditions shape me in my everyday life and how I understand them as part of a larger fight, a fight for my life.
She later earned a degree in religion and philosophy from
Cullors teaches at
Otis College of Art and Design in the Public Practice Program. She also teaches in the Master's Arts in Social Justice and Community Organizing at Prescott College.  
Black Lives Matter
community organizers and friends Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, Cullors founded Black Lives Matter.  The three started the movement out of frustration over  George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Cullors created the  hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to corroborate Garza's use of the phrase in making a Facebook post about the Martin case. Cullors further described her impetus for pushing for  African-American rights stemming from her 19-year-old brother being brutalized during imprisonment Los Angeles County jails.
social media being instrumental in revealing violence against African Americans, saying: "On a daily basis, every moment, black folks are being bombarded with images of our death ... It's literally saying, 'Black people, you might be next. You will be next, but in hindsight it will be better for our nation, the less of our kind, the more safe it will be."
She has served as
executive director of the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails. The group advocated for a civilian commission to oversee the  Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in order to curb abuses by officers. By organizing former jail inmates as a voting bloc, the group hoped to sway the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to create such a commission, as well as gather enough votes to elect a replacement for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who resigned in 2014 for separate reasons. However, the group did not succeed in its efforts.
Cullors co-founded the prison activist organization
Dignity and Power Now, which succeeded in advocating for a civilian oversight board.
She is also a board member of the
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, having led a think tank on state and vigilante violence for the 2014 Without Borders Conference.
Cullors identifies as
queer. She co-endorsed Senators  Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.
Fulbright scholar   2007
Mario Savio Young Activist of the Year.  The
Sidney Goldfarb award An
NAACP History Maker, 2015  With Opal Tometi, and Alicia Garza (as "The Women of #BlackLivesMatter") listed as one of the nine runners-up for
s Person of the Year, 2015 The Advocate'  A
Woman of the Year, 2016 Glamour Magazine  One of
's World's Greatest Leaders, 2016 Fortune  An
Honorary Doctorate from Clarkson University, among several others  the 2018 recipient of the
José Muñoz Award from CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center  In June 2020, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first LGBTQ Pride parade, named her among the fifty heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people”. Queerty  
In 2014 Cullors produced the theatrical piece
POWER: From the Mouths of the Occupied, which debuted at Highways Performance Space. She has contributed articles about the movement to the  LA Progressive, including an article from December 2015 titled "The Future of Black Life"  which pushed the idea that activists could no longer wait for the State to take action, and called her followers into action by encouraging them to begin building the world that they want to see. 
When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir was published in January 2018.
^ a b c
Aron, Hillel (November 9, 2015). "These Savvy Women Have Made Black Lives Matter the Most Crucial Left-Wing Movement Today". L.A. Weekly. Archived from the original on July 8, 2018 . Retrieved . March 30, 2017
^ a b
"Queerness on the front lines of #BlackLivesMatter". MSNBC. February 19, 2015. Archived from the original on January 3, 2016 . Retrieved . January 4, 2016
^ Farrag, Hebah H. (June 24, 2015).
"The Role of Spirit in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement: A Conversation with Activist and Artist Patrisse Cullors". Archived July 17, 2015, at the Wayback Machine religiondispatches.org.
"Public Practice faculty Patrisse Cullors talks about co-creating #BlackLivesMatter". Otis College of Art and Design. Otis College of Art and Design. Archived from the original on January 19, 2017 . Retrieved . January 18, 2017
"Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 17, 2019 . Retrieved . January 16, 2019 CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)
"A Short History of Black Lives Matter". therealnews. Archived from the original on July 24, 2015.
Goldhill, Olivia (November 15, 2016). ". "We can feel sad, hurt, demoralized. But we can't give up": A Black Lives Matter founder on Trump's presidency" Quartz. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017 . Retrieved . July 19, 2017
Garza, Alicia. "Herstory". Black Lives Matter. Archived from the original on April 10, 2017 . Retrieved . July 19, 2017
"Opinion | A decade of Black Lives Matter gives us a new understanding of Black liberation". NBC News. Archived from the original on April 25, 2020 . Retrieved . April 24, 2020
^ a b
Guynn, Jessica (March 4, 2015). "Meet the woman who coined #BlackLivesMatter". USA Today. Archived from the original on February 20, 2018 . Retrieved . March 7, 2015
Segalov, Michael (February 2, 2015). "We Spoke to the Activist Behind #BlackLivesMatter About Racism in Britain and America". . Vice Archived from the original on July 4, 2015 . Retrieved . June 2, 2015
Gebreyes, Rahel (September 10, 2014). "Patrisse Cullors Explains How Social Media Images of Black Death Propel Social Change". . Huffington Post Archived from the original on April 20, 2015 . Retrieved . June 2, 2015
Sewell, Abby (April 14, 2014). "Activist battles L.A. County jailers' 'culture of violence. '" Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 12, 2015 . Retrieved . November 6, 2015
^ Hing, Julianne,
"In L.A., Civilians Will Have Power Over Sheriff's Department" Archived July 21, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, colorlines.com, December 15, 2014.
"Staff and Board" Archived May 5, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. Ella Baker Center.
Walker, James (February 25, 2002). "Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Endorses Sanders and Warren, Says It Is Time for Biden to Stand Down". Newsweek. Archived from the original on February 26, 2020 . Retrieved . February 27, 2020
Beckman, Hank (January 19, 2016). "Black Lives Matter co-founder brings message to Naperville". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on August 16, 2016 . Retrieved . July 12, 2016
Wheaton, Sarah (August 20, 2015). "Black Lives Matter isn't stopping". Politico. Archived from the original on July 12, 2016 . Retrieved . July 12, 2016
"The Mario Savio Young Activist Award :: The Award". www.savio.org. Archived from the original on July 22, 2015 . Retrieved . July 19, 2015
". Archived from "NAACP History Makers "" the original on August 5, 2016 . Retrieved . January 3, 2016
"Person of the Year: The Finalists". advocate.com. November 5, 2015. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019 . Retrieved . November 6, 2015
"Glamour's Women of the Year 2016: Gwen Stefani, Simone Biles, Ashley Graham, and More Honorees". Galmour.com. Condé Nast. November 1, 2016. Archived from the original on February 2, 2017 . Retrieved . January 18, 2017
"Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi". Fortune Magazine. Time Inc. Archived from the original on January 19, 2017 . Retrieved . January 18, 2017
"Commencement 2017". Clarkson University. Clarkson University. Archived from the original on January 19, 2017 . Retrieved . January 18, 2017
"LGBTQ Pride Month: A Conversation with Patrisse Cullors". www.gc.cuny.edu. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018 . Retrieved . June 11, 2018
"Queerty Pride50 2020 Honorees". Queerty . Retrieved . June 30, 2020
Tracer, Daniel (June 26, 2020). "Meet 6 Black trailblazers fighting racism: "I didn't come to play; I came to dismantle white supremacy.. "" Queerty . Retrieved . June 30, 2020
"PATRISSE CULLORS – Power: From the Mouths of the Occupied". Highways. Highways Performance Space. Archived from the original on January 19, 2017 . Retrieved . January 18, 2017
"About Patrisse Cullors". LA Progressive. Archived from the original on February 27, 2017 . Retrieved . March 30, 2017
"The Future of Black Life". LA Progressive. December 31, 2015. Archived from the original on February 8, 2017 . Retrieved . February 7, 2017
Deahl, Rachel (March 31, 2017). "Book Deals: Week of April 3, 2017". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on October 10, 2017 . Retrieved . October 9, 2017