Video resurfaces in which Black Lives Matter founder says group's creators are 'trained Marxists'

They are 'super-versed on ... ideological theories,' she said.

Last Updated:
June 20, 2020 - 4:54pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

As Black Lives Matter activism continues to spread throughout the country—with demonstrators calling for the defunding of police departments and radical overhauls to significant portions of the United States—a video resurfaced this week in which one of the founders of the black activism group affirmed that she and her co-founder are "trained Marxists" who are well-versed in "ideological theories." 

Though it is ostensibly a group dedicated primarily to fighting and ending racism and police brutality in the United States, Black Lives Matter itself deals heavily in language and rhetoric steeped in left-wing ideology. The group states on its website that it is dedicated to "issues concerning racial injustice, police brutality, criminal justice reform, Black immigration, economic injustice, LGBTQIA+ and human rights, environmental injustice, access to healthcare, access to quality education, and voting rights and suppression."

Those progressive fixations do not appear to be accidental. In a video interview from 2015, one of the group's founders admitted that she and her fellow co-founder are dedicated to the ideology of Karl Marx, the father of "scientific socialism" and foundational figure of the international communist movement. 

Patrisse Cullors, who founded the group with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi in 2013, was interviewed by Morgan State University Professor Jared Ball in 2015 regarding the movement she helped to create. Ball in that interview asked Cullors about "critiques" of her group, ones that allege "a lack of perhaps ideological direction in Black Lives Matter that would allow it to be, to fizzle out." 

Responding to that question, Cullors said that the group "do[es] have an ideological frame."

"Myself and Alicia in particular are trained organizers. We are trained Marxists. We are super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories," she said, adding that the group's founders sought to "build a movement that could be utilized by many, many black folk."

"We don’t necessarily want to be the vanguard of this movement. I think we’ve tried to put out a political frame that’s about centering who we think are the most vulnerable amongst the black community, to really fight for all of our lives," she said. 

The resurfaced video, and the ongoing advancement of Black Lives Matter as a cultural and political force, comes as countless Americans are lining up to back the group and major corporations and brands are rushing to support the movement.

The phrase "Black Lives Matter" itself has become a touchstone of the American cultural landscape, with activists at times demanding that white people say those specific words as part of a sort of affirmation of the movement. 

Vice President Mike Pence was recently pressured to publicly speak the phrase, though he refused to do so, instead stating that "all lives matter."

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