Sweden’s Olof Palme human rights prize for 2020 has been awarded to the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. #BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013, after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin’s 28-year-old murderer was acquitted at his murder trial when the man claimed he had acted in self-defence. The Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. states that its mission is to “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” As the winner of the prize, the Foundation will receive £73,000 ($100,000).
The human rights prize commemorates Olof Palme, a Swedish prime minister and human rights advocate who was assassinated in Stockholm in 1986. The Olof Palme Memorial Fund, which selects the award’s annual winner, stated that it chose the Black Lives Matter movement for promoting “peaceful civil disobedience against police brutality and racial violence” globally. Approximately 20 million people participated in Black Lives Matter (B.L.M.) protests in the United States, and millions more demonstrated across the globe. The Memorial Fund said, “This illustrates that racism and racist violence is not just a problem in American society, but a global problem.”
The awards ceremony took place in Stockholm on January 30th and can be found on Youtube. Speakers and recipients communicated via online video conferencing.
In a statement, the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said that the B.L.M. movement has “in a unique way exposed the hardship, pain and wrath of the African-American minority at not being valued equal to people of a different color.”
Black Lives Matter is a movement rooted in social media. Its name comes from a Facebook post with the same title, which was shared after Trayvon Martin’s murderer was acquitted. Melina Abdullah, a professor of Pan-African Studies in Los Angeles and co-founder of one of the first “chapters” of the Black Lives Matter movement, recalled a meeting of 30 people who got together in 2013 in response to Martin’s death. “It was students… artists, organizers and mommas,” Abdullah said. “We knew that it was part of our sacred duty to step up. And there was an audaciousness that we could transform the world, but we didn’t have a plan for it.”
Ambassador Andrew Young, a civil rights leader who marched alongside Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., stated that B.L.M. gives him a “tremendous sense of pride,” particularly because “they have remained overwhelmingly nonviolent.”
Petter Eide, a Norwegian MP, has also nominated the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. In his nomination, Eide stated that the movement was “an important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice.”
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