Patrisse Cullors

UB Distinguished Speakers Series
Patrisse Cullors Image
Social Activist; Best-selling Author of "When They Call You A Terrorist" & Co-Creator of the Viral Twitter Hashtag and Movement, #BlackLivesMatter


Wed Feb 10, 2021 at 7:00 pm
Virtual via Zoom

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UB's 45th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Keynote Speaker

Artist, activist, educator, public speaker and Los Angeles-native Patrisse Cullors is the co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and founder of the Los Angeles-based grassroots organization Dignity and Power Now. For the last 20 years, Cullors has been on the frontlines of criminal justice reform and led Reform LA Jails’ “Yes on R” campaign, a ballot initiative that passed by a 71% landslide victory in March 2020. 

Cullors co-founded the global Black Lives Matter movement in 2013 after sparking the viral Twitter hashtag. The movement has since expanded into an international organization with dozens of chapters around the world campaigning against anti-black racism. In January 2016, Cullors published her memoir, “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir,” which became an instant New York Times bestseller. A young adult edition of the memoir is set to be published in September 2020. Cullors’ work for Black Lives Matter recently received recognition in TIME magazine’s 2020 100 Women of the Year project. 

From 2016 to 2018 Cullors worked as a senior fellow at MomsRising where she worked on ground breaking federal legislation that will change the outcomes of maternal mortality for women, especially Black women. She also executive produced two podcasts with Rewire and developed a booklet labeled “c-section chronicles.” 

As an artist, Cullors has directed and produced world renowned theater, performance pieces and docu-series. Her work has been on networks like BET and Blackpills as well as theaters and galleries across the world. Most recently she conducted her first solo show titled: “Respite, Reprieve and Healing: An Evening of Cleansing.” Her work focuses on trauma, healing and resilience. 

Cullors developed and is currently the faculty director of a new Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program at Arizona’s Prescott College. The program is the first of its kind in the nation to focus a curriculum on the intersection of art, social justice and community organizing.

Cullors is the recipient of the Stanton Fellowship from the Durfee Foundation. She has held residencies at The 24th Street Theater and Kalamazoo College. Cullors has exhibited widely across Los Angeles and the United States, from traditional arts institutions to public spaces. Her work has been shown at Art Basel Miami, Hauser & Wirth, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, the California African American Museum, the San Diego Art Institute, Kalamazoo College, Pieter Performance Space, Highways Performance Space, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and more.

Cullors has been honored with various awards including: The 2020 Durfee Stanton Fellowship, The 2019 Champion for Peace and Justice from the Trayvon Martin Foundation, The Next Generation Award (2018) from ACLU National, The Sydney Peace Prize Award (2017), Black Woman of the Year Award (2015) from The National Congress of Black Women, Civil Rights Leader for the 21st Century Award (2015) from the Los Angeles Times, Community Change Agent Award (2016) from BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, Inc., Women of the Year Award for the Justice Seekers Award (2016) from Glamour, and ESSENCE’s first-ever Woke Award.

Cullors holds her MFA from USC Roski School of Art and Design.