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Black Lives Matter (U.S.)

American Political Movement, BLM

Last modified: 2020-07-04 by rick wyatt
Keywords: united states | black lives matter | blm |
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[Black Lives Matter Flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019

See also:


Overview of the Black Lives Matter Movement

The following presentation of Black Lives Matter will try to discuss all aspects of this vexillological phenomenon - not only the flags used by their supporters, but also those used by their opponents, being related in the way which allows, even requires such an approach.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people. BLM regularly holds protests speaking out against police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system.
In 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter" on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. First street demonstrations took place in 2014, following the deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City. Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody. The originators of the hashtag and call to action, Alicia Garza from Oakland, California, Patrisse Cullors from Los Angeles, California, and Opal Tometi from Brooklyn, New York, expanded their project into a national network of over 30 local chapters between 2014 and 2016. The overall Black Lives Matter movement, however, is a decentralized network and has no formal hierarchy.
Since 2015, there were BLM activities in other countries, such as Australia, Canada or the United Kingdom. On the other hand, rise of the movement has also inspired the counter-movements whose accusations range from inspiring hostility towards the police in general to promoting anti-white racism (regarding the latter, it shall be noted that such accusations are typically cast by white supremacists upon their opponents). Other critics of the BLM include perceived lack of focus on interracial violence, problematic statements about Israel (accusations for Israeli "genocide" against the Palestinians) and insufficient focus on female victims. (source: Black Lives Matter at Wikipedia)

The most widespread BLM flag is black (as shown above) with the words arranged in three rows, BLACK and MATTER inscribed in white and LIVES inscribed in black upon a white panel as shown above [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. While the typeface used is most frequently as shown here, it varies as well [8, 9, 10], but the text is always centered horizontally.
Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019. (See Source listed below)


Black Lives Matter Movement - Variant #1

[Black Lives Matter Flag] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019.
(image of described flag; derived from the SVG image of the logo from Wikimedia Commons.)

A much less used flag replaces black and white with yellow and black, respectively, uses a different typeface and aligns the text along the left-hand edge. All of its photos currently found on the Web are from the University of Dartmouth; they were taken in December 2016, so this might have been a unique appearance of the flag [11, 12, 13].
Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019. (See source list below)


Black Lives Matter Movement - Variant #2

[Black Lives Matter Flag 3] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019
(image of described flag; derived from the SVG image of the logo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Another rarely used design uses the typeface similar to the one most frequently used in the first design (see above), only a condensed variant, placed over the Garvey colors, each word centered upon a colored stripe. Its only photo currently available online was taken at the Norris University Center in Evanston, Illinois on 2017-03-03, so it might have been another unique appearance [14].
Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019. (See source list below)


Black Lives Matter Movement - Variant #3

[Black Lives Matter Flag 3] image by Tomislav Todorovic, 13 March 2020

The flag sold by the BLM online shop [15] is black, charged with the official logo of the movement: words BLACK LIVES MATTER in white, inscribed in three rows, and three yellow horizontal lines below. The logo has appeared at the BLM website in 2017, replacing the earlier version, which had had the words BLACK and MATTER in black on yellow and the word LIVES in reversed colors, the typeface and color set resembling those on several other BLM flags, only with two T's conjoined into a single shape [16]. Originally, the new logo had had all charges in black on yellow field [17], which was changed to current colors the next year, the home page usually displaying the version with black inscription and white field [18], reversal of what is used in the flag, but the shop offers the stickers displaying both versions of the logo [19, 20], suggesting that both of them are official. This flag still seems to be rarely used: the only currently known example of its use is from Burlington, Vermont, where it was hoisted in front of the Edmunds Middle School on 2020-02-05 [21, 22].
Tomislav Todorovic, 13 March 2020


Other Flags used by the Black Lives Matter Movement

Along with flags specific to the BLM movement there is also the widespread use of the Garvey flag and the USA national flag, which is usually hoisted upside-down as a symbol of protest. Other flags favored by the BLM movement include the African American Flag by David Hammons and the black and white variant of the USA flag introduced in the video for the song "Put On" by Young Jeezy and Kanye West. Flags designs specific to the movement have also appeared; their common feature is that they all carry the words BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019


Flags used by Black Lives Matter Movement opponents

Counter-slogans like "All Lives Matter" or "Blue Lives Matter" have also been appearing on the flags, whose designs may consequently be considered as being counter-inspired, so to speak by the BLM movement. The increasing use of "Thin Blue Line flags" including the variant bearing the inscription "Police Lives Matter" is also a part of this trend. Other Thin Line flags' increasing introduction and use may thus be regarded as indirectly (counter-)inspired by the BLM as well.
Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019


Sources

[1] Flickr - Photo of BLM flag taken in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 2017-05-07.
[2] Flickr - Photo of BLM flag taken in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 2017-05-10.
[3] Getty Images photo archive - Photo of BLM flag taken in San Francisco, California on 2017-06-25.
[4] Unitarian Universalist Association website - Report on raising of the BLM flag in Springfield, Missouri on 2018-03-04.
[5] Getty Images photo archive - Photo of BLM flag taken in New York City on 2018-05-01.
[6] The Washington Post website - Photo of BLM flag taken in Selma, Alabama on 2019-03-03.
[7] Getty Images photo archive - Photo of BLM flag taken in Washington, DC on 2019-07-06
[8] WAMC radio station website - Photo of BLM flag taken at the University of Vermont in 2016.
[9] Maine Beacon website - Photo of BLM flag taken at the University of Maine on 2017-02-01.
[10] My Champlain Valley website - Photo of BLM flag taken in April 2019.
[11] New Bedford Guide website.
[12] WBSM radio station website.
[13] Dartmouth Week website.
[14] The Daily Northwestern website.
[15] Black Lives Matter online shop - The flag: https://blacklivesmatter.shop.capthat.com/product/5QAMBL005/official-black-lives-matter-logo-flag 
[16] Black Lives Matter website - Home page (saved by the Internet Archive on 2015-08-28 @18:05:38): http://web.archive.org/web/20150828180538/http://blacklivesmatter.com/
[17] Black Lives Matter website - Home page (saved by the Internet Archive on 2017-10-12 @01:02:29): http://web.archive.org/web/20171012010229/https://blacklivesmatter.com
[18] Black Lives Matter website - Home page (saved by the Internet Archive on 2018-11-01 @01:22:27): http://web.archive.org/web/20181101012227/https://blacklivesmatter.com/
[19] Black Lives Matter online shop - The sticker with white field: https://blacklivesmatter.shop.capthat.com/product/5QAMBL009/logo-sticker-white
[20] Black Lives Matter online shop - The sticker with black field: https://blacklivesmatter.shop.capthat.com/product/5QAMBL010/logo-sticker-black
[21] Burlington School District website: https://www.bsdvt.org/2020/02/24/edmunds-students-raise-black-lives-matter-flag/
[22] CBS Local website: https://cbslocal.com/video/4436570-middle-school-raises-black-lives-matter-flag-to-promote-racial-equality/
Tomislav Todorovic, 13 November 2019, 13 March 2020