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Black Lives Matter London
Photography Patrick Heardman

The Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize

The protest movement was put forward by a Norwegian MP in recognition of its global impact on the fight for racial justice

The year after it became the biggest activist movement in US history and sparked a wave of worldwide demonstrations to challenge systemic racism, the Black Lives Matter movement has been nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. The movement was recommended by Norweigan MP Petter Eide, whose nomination papers highlight its impact across the globe.

“They have had a tremendous achievement in raising global awareness and consciousness about racial injustice,” Eide says (via the Guardian). “I find that one of the key challenges we have seen in America, but also in Europe and Asia, is the kind of increasing conflict based on inequality. Black Lives Matter has become a very important worldwide movement to fight racial injustice.”

Eide also notes the way that BLM has managed to “mobilise people from all groups of society, not just African-Americans, not just oppressed people, it has been a broad movement, in a way which has been different from their predecessors.”

As an online hashtag and call to action, Black Lives Matter was co-founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors (who reflected on the movement five years on, in an interview for Dazed). Originally a response to the acquittal of the vigilante who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the movement rallied support following the 2014 deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, and led last year’s calls for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

This weekend, after recommending BLM for the Nobel Peace Prize, Eide woke up to an inbox “full of very angry Americans” alleging that the movement isn’t peaceful, he tells USA Today. However, he adds that he was prepared for the criticism, noting: “those arguments also came up when Dr. Martin Luther King received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 – exactly the same arguments.”

Despite negative portrayals by the US government and right-wing media, the vast majority of 2020 Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful. In September, a report from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (ACLED) – an organisation that tracks worldwide political violence and unrest – stated that 93 per cent of more than 7,750 demonstrations were peaceful, even in the face of forceful or violent interventions.

Previous recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize include the Pakistani activist for female education Malala Yousafzai, who made history when she won aged 17. In 2019, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg was nominated, while last year the award went to the World Food Programme.

In a response to Eide’s nomination on social media, Cullors writes: “I’ve thought about how for hundreds of years Black folks have been fighting for our freedom. How every generation pushes the world to see the trauma of white supremacy and the absolute urgency to root it out of our society so that Black people can not just survive but thrive.” 

“If our movement wins the Nobel Peace Prize it’s because millions of people, over the last 7 years, have showed up to continue the fight for Black liberation. I’m grateful for all the organizations, and individuals that make up this movement. It took all of us. Every single one of us.”