The Black Lives Matter movement has been a force to be reckoned with since it was sparked by a social media hashtag more than four years ago. What was once a rallying cry of outrage set off by the 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, has since grown into a global network of chapters of grassroots activists fighting racism and violence against African Americans.
Now the movement’s reach and legacy has expanded even more as co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors joins the faculty of the Social Justice and Community Organizing program at Arizona’s Prescott College.
As an adjunct professor at the liberal arts institution, Cullors will be leading a course she created centered on examining social practice, cultural work, and art impact on community organizing. “Artists and cultural workers historically and presently play a significant role in shaping movements,” Cullors said in a news release. “Now is the time we unearth that history and utilize it to help us with some of the most important fights of this time.”
The course is part of the Social Justice & Community Organizing (SJCO) Master’s program which explores theories and practices to help students develop and strengthen knowledge of how to effectively build a justice movement from the grassroots level and mobilize communities around working toward positive change.
To the new role, Cullors brings her experience as a powerhouse activist, educator, artist, and speaker. The Los Angeles native is the co-author of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir, a New York Times bestseller she wrote with award-winning journalist Asha Bandele. Cullors also further serves her community as the founder of Dignity and Power Now, an organization that advocates for the rights of incarcerated populations and provides support resources for their families.
She has also received honors for her activism that has inspired a new generation of activists of color including The Sydney Peace Prize Award, the Black Woman of the Year Award from The National Congress of Black Women, the Community Change Agent Award from BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Inc., Women of the Year Award for the Justice Seekers Award (2016) from Glamour, and Essence magazine’s Woke Award.
This is not Cullors’ first foray into higher education: She’s also served as a lecturer with the MFA Public Practice faculty at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.
As she takes on this latest position at Prescott, she is also completing her studies as a 2019 MFA candidate at the University of Southern California.
Earlier this year, Cullors stopped by Black Enterprise to talk about her book, earning income as an organizer, and the next steps for the Black Lives Matter movement. Watch below.