By Ratha A.

A dispatch from the inaugural gathering of a proudly diffuse, rapidly growing, hyper-local movement for black lives.

 By Mark Winston Griffith

 (Photo courtesy of  Arash Azizzada )

 (Photo courtesy of Arash Azizzada)

     The first ever Movement for Black Lives Convening took place from Friday July 24th to Sunday the 26th at Cleveland State University, bringing together more than 1000 civil rights activists from across the country. The conference included leaders from Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, Ferguson Action and Cleveland Action to discuss what's next for the Black Lives Matter movement. Even as the train of relatives and loved ones of black people killed by law enforcement officials walked across the University stage, the was absolutely no doubt that the conference was about "the defense of black bodies, the celebration of black collective resiliency, and the building of a movement the likes of which has never been seen." The family members all shared memories and little details about their murdered loved ones reminding everyone of the things that made them human; their favorite colors, sports teams and nicknames. A vital aspect of the convening was the role the LGTBQI community played. 

"Through the crucibles of New York, Cleveland, Ferguson, and dozens of other less notorious battlegrounds, a new generation of black change agents has emerged—people who are organizing youth, queer, and transgender folks, women, immigrants, the differently abled, and other black communities. #BlackLivesMatter has been the rallying cry."

The projection of the LGTBQI community and youth at the gathering depicted the emergence of a new, strong force in the overall fight against police violence. The conference organizers astutely recognized that the gathering was really a networking hub and fueling station for a thousand self-powered movement engines, and all of these different parts demanded future gatherings. 

Read more here: Black Love Matters