Black Lives Matter Founder Alicia Garza Launches Black Futures Lab

Black Lives Matter Founder Alicia Garza Launches Black Futures Lab


On February 26, Alicia Garza, co-creator of Black Lives Matter, launched the Black Futures Lab (BFL), a new mobilization effort that will engage Black people, legislators, and community-based organizations to build political power and push for policies that help strengthen Black communities.

The new projects is being launched in partnership with Demos, Color of Change, Center for Third World Organizing, Socioanalitica Research, and the Tides Foundation. A press release states that, “The Black Futures Lab will develop strategies that help Black people imagine the political, social and economic alternatives needed at the local, state, and federal level, while also building the political power needed to implement those alternatives.”

Black Futures Lab will survey 200,000 Black people across 20 states in what would be the largest survey of Black people in recent history.  The Black Futures Lab seeks to “change the way power operates” statewide and nationally and “exercise power through training, culture, and community.”

“If we’ve learned anything from this past election, it’s that Black folks drive the progressive political power in this country, but rarely benefit from the fruits of our labor. Today, we are launching the Black Futures Lab as a way to mobilize around our needs, hopes and dreams,” said Alicia Garza in a statement on February 26.

“For too long, people have spoken for us and perpetuated false representations of the issues that drive our votes,” she added.  Garza, 37, along with  Patrisse Cullors, 33, and Opal Tometi (age unknown), founded Black Lives Matter in 2013 shortly after the murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman. 

As its first initiative, Black Futures Lab has launched the Black Census project, a national data collection effort to hear directly from 200,000 Black people in 20 states about the issues impacting their lives.  The Black Census project was designed by a group of distinguished sociologists and social science researchers.

“Unlike the U.S. Census, which polls only for population count, the Black Census will be conducted online as well as through a coordinated on-the-ground, door-knocking effort. The survey will collect information about key issues impacting Black communities, including: generational oppression, mass incarceration, police violence, and inequities in healthcare and economic access. This information will then help organizers better understand how to build and mobilize Black power within their communities and nationally,” the Black Futures Lab release reads. 

“For a country built on the exclusion of Black votes, the Black Census Project is a vital step towards asserting the power of our community’s voices in an era where our president is leading a white nationalist movement against us,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change.

Forms for the Black Census Project are available online starting today, which coincides with the 92nd anniversary of Dr. Carter G. Woodson’s launch of “Negro History Week”.  Black Future Lab’s organizers will begin conducting in-person surveys starting in March.

The survey will be available online and in person through August, when the data will be compiled, analyzed and revealed by the end of 2018.

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Lauren Victoria Burke
Lauren Victoria Burke is a writer, comms strategist and political analyst. She created Crewof42, a blog focused on African American members of Congress, in 2009. Ms. Burke also writes for NBC BLK, The Root, NNPA and is the Managing Editor of Politic365. As part of a diverse career in politics and media, she has served as a congressional staffer for the U.S. Senate Democratic Policy Committee, Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) and Director of Communications for Justin Fairfax for Lt. Governor of Virginia. From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Burke appeared each Monday on NewsOneNow with Roland Martin on TVOne. Ms. Burke holds a B.A. in History from The American University. She was born and raised in New York. Email: Twitter: @LVBurke. IG: @laurenvburke. Periscope: @LVBurke