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TEDWomen update: Black Lives Matter wins Sydney Peace Prize

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Founders of the Black Lives Matter movement — from left, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, interviewed onstage by TEDWomen cohost Mia Birdsong at TEDWomen 2016 in San Francisco. Photo: Marla Aufmuth / TED

Cross-posted from TEDWomen curator Pat Mitchell’s blog on the Huffington Post.

Last month, the Black Lives Matter movement was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, a global prize that honors those who pursue “peace with justice.” Past honorees include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Irish President Mary Robinson.

The prize “recognizes the vital contributions of leading global peacemakers, creates a platform so that their voices are heard, and supports their vital work for a fairer world.” Winners receive $50,000 to help them continue their work.

One of the highlights of last year’s TEDWomen was a conversation with Black Lives Matter founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. They spoke with Mia Birdsong about the movement and their commitment to working collaboratively for change. As Tometi told Birdsong: “We need to acknowledge that different people contribute different strengths, and that in order for our entire team to flourish, we have to allow them to share and allow them to shine.”

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This year’s TEDWomen conference (registration is open), which will be held in New Orleans November 1–3, 2017, will expand on many of the themes Garza, Cullors, Tometi and Birdsong touched on during their conversation last year. This year’s conference theme is Bridges — and we’ll be looking at how individuals and organizations create bridges between races, cultures, people, and places — and, as modeled by the Black Lives Matter movement, how we build bridges to a more equal and just world.

In announcing the award, the Sydney Peace Foundation said, “This is the first time that a movement and not a person has been awarded the peace prize — a timely choice. Climate change is escalating fast, increasing inequality and racism are feeding divisiveness, and we are in the middle of the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Yet many establishment leaders across the world stick their heads in the sand or turn their backs on justice, fairness and equality.”

Founders Garza, Cullors and Tometi will travel to Australia later this year to formally accept the prize.

Congratulations to them!