Black Lives Matter Activist Rejects Meeting with Obama

Black Lives Matter Activist Rejects Meeting with Obama


“As the cofounder of Black Lives Matter Chicago, I was issued an invitation to this event, and various news outlets have already listed me as an attendee. But as a radical, Black organizer, living and working in a city that is now widely recognized as a symbol of corruption and police violence, I do not feel that a handshake with the president is the best way for me to honor Black History Month or the Black freedom fighters whose labor laid the groundwork for the historic moment we are living in.”  — Aislinn Pulley

A number of civil rights leaders were invited today to the White House, some represented legacy groups, others represented the new age of leadership led by Black Lives Matter. Listed on the lengthy roster of leaders was Aislinn Pulley of Black Lives Matter Chicago.

But she chose not to attend.

“I was under the impression that a meeting was being organized to facilitate a genuine exchange on the matters facing millions of Black and Brown people in the United States. Instead, what was arranged was basically a photo opportunity and a 90-second sound bite for the president. I could not, with any integrity, participate in such a sham that would only serve to legitimize the false narrative that the government is working to end police brutality and the institutional racism that fuels it. For the increasing number of families fighting for justice and dignity for their kin slain by police, I refuse to give its perpetrators and enablers political cover by making an appearance among them.”

Many of the White House meetings with black civil rights leaders and members of Congress have not impacting African Americans in a way activists would like.

Currently 38 percent of Black children are in poverty, the wealth gap between black and white is staggering and black unemployment over the last seven years has been among the highest in three decades.

“Why did I go to the meeting w/ today?” tweeted activist Deray Mckesson this evening.

“B/c if the goal is to actually change this system, then we have to take the fight everywhere,” he concluded.

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Twitter: @LVBurke / Lauren Victoria Burke is an independent journalist who analyses politics and justice reform. She created, a blog that covers the work of African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke has also been a staffer for the Senate Democratic Policy Committee and Director of Communications for Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). She has had a very diverse career in politics and media and appears weekly on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin. She has also appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Politics Nation with Al Sharpton and Up with Steve Kornacki on MSNBC. She is also a contributing writer for and Ms. Burke was born in the Bronx, New York and grew up on Long Island. She holds a B.A. in History from The American University. E-mail: Instagram: LVB325.