Opal Tometi

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Opal Tometi


Opal Tometi aka Opal Ayo, is a Black feminist writer, communications strategist and cultural organizer. She is a co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, the historic political project and leader-full network was launched in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin in order to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives. Ms. Tometi is currently at the helm of the country’s leading Black organization for immigrant rights, the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), a national organization that educates and advocates to further immigrant rights and racial justice together with African-American, Afro-Latino, African and Caribbean immigrant communities.

As the executive director at BAJI, Opal collaborates with staff and communities in Los Angeles, Phoenix, New York, Oakland, Washington, DC and communities throughout the Southern states. The organization’s most recent campaign helped win family reunification visas for Haitians displaced by the 2010 earthquake. Ms. Tometi holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a Masters of Arts degree in Communication and Advocacy. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, she grew up in Phoenix, Arizona where she is a board member of the Puente Movement. She currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.[1]

She is based in New York City.

Black Lives Matter

Alicia Garza created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements.

Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise. It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.[2]

Education

Studied at the University of Arizona

Left Forum 2013

Africa and 21st Century Governance and Security Challenges. Prospects for Ecological and Economic Transformation on the African Continent.

Chair/Facilitator: Wuyi Jacobs - WBAI Pacifica Radio 99.5 FM / AfrobeatRadio

Speakers/Co-Facilitators:

Left Forum 2014

Beyond Borders: The Global Fight against Racism

From the challenges against the Dominican Republic’s “birthright” laws aimed at Haitian émigrés, to their growing influence in the United States, Latin America and Europe, Black immigrant communities are redefining the fight from civil rights to global citizenship. This panel will look at the intersections of race, class, gender and Black immigrant communities, and the potential for solidarity from below.

Sponsoring Journal: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung—New York Office.

Rosa Luxemburg Foundation

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On June 4, 2015, Opal Tometi visited Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin. Before meeting with activists and employees from the foundation she was interviewed be Ophélie Ivombo. In the interview she spoke about racist police violence in the U.S. and accomplishments of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.[3]

1st Anniversary of the #Ferguson Uprising

Maurice Moe Mitchell August 5, 2015,

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  1. UnitedWeFight: 1st Anniversary of the #Ferguson Uprising - National Conference Call. Thurs. 8PM EST / 7PM CST Register at http://bit.ly/uwfcall — with Justin Hansford, Scott A. Roberts, Mary Hooks, Kayla M. Reed, Diamond Latchison, Kareem Jackson, Bukky Gbadegesin, Katrina Gamble, Tanya Lucia Bernard, Tory Russell, Cedric Lawson, Alicia Garza, Leslie Mac, Charlene Carruthers, Patrisse Cullors, Cherrell Brown, Dante Barry, Waltrina N. Middleton, Damon Turner, Marbre Stahly-Butts, Ash-Lee Henderson, Damon Davis, Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, Mari Morales-Williams, Mervyn Marcano, Nicole Lee, Elandria Williams, Opal Ayo, Jonathan Pulphus, Dara Cooper, Michael McBride, Umi Selah, Osagyefo Sekou, Tara Tee, Rose Berry, Sistufara W. Muhammad, Purvi Shah, Cid Nichols, Ingrid Benedict, Jade Ogunnaike, James Hayes, Anita Nichole, Joe Worthy and The Movement for Black Lives.

The Movement for Black Lives

The Black Lives Matter "Movement for Black Lives" conference was held in Cleveland Ohio, July 24-26, 2015.

Strategies For Transformation: Divest From Police/Invest in Communities, Carmen Dixon, Ben Ndugga-Kabuye, Opal Tometi.

Welcome to America; Black Immigrant Experience of Anti-Black & Anti-Immigrant State Violence in the US: Devonte Jackson, Black Alliance for Just Immigration + Black Immigration Network members Ben Ndugga-Kabuye, Marybeth Onyeukwu, Tia Oso, Abraham Paulos, Opal Tometi, Aly Wane.[4]

Florida comrades

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Francesca Menes, June 11 2016, with Maria Asuncion Bilbao, Umi Selah, Tia Oso, Gabriel Garcia-Vera, Alana Greer, Marleine Bastien, Meena Jagannath, Eel Kat, Esi Fynn-Obeng, Lis-Marie Gueguense, Ruth Jeannoel, Kathy Bird Carvajal, Tomas Kennedy, Natalia Jaramillo, Maria Rodriguez, LiLi Bach, Trina Jackson, Marcia Olivo, Daniel Agnew, Francois Alexandre, Karla De Anda, Valencia Gunder, Donald Anthonyson, Opal Ayo and Hulya Miclisse-Polat.

Opal Tometi at the UN

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Matt Meyer, July 13 2016;

Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi addressing the United Nations at the High Level UN@70 discussion on Human Rights at the Centre of the Global Agenda. She eloquently spoke for reparations, justice, an end to mass incarceration - and a connected analysis which includes struggle against white supremacy, capitalism, imperialism, and militarism. — with David Ragland, Signe Harriday, Nesrin Kenar, Meg Starr, Amilcar Shabazz, Johanna Fernandez, Ibrahim Shaw, Opal Tometi, Melina Abdullah, Cris Toffolo, Osagyefo Sekou, Emily Welty, Alicia Garza, Carlito Rovira, Cyril Obi, Mark Norris Lance, Stellan Vinthagen, Dequi Kioni-sadiki, Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA) and International Peace Research Association - IPRA.

#Our100

#Our100 was set up in New York City, right after the 2016 election. Following the election of Republican Donald Trump to the White House, women of color in New York City are joining together over the next four days in solidarity against misogyny, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments.

This action builds on October’s #GOPHandsOffMe protests, when women of color and survivors took to the streets and made videos in response to the tape in which the president-elect could be heard through a hot mic speaking about sexually assaulting women.

“Women of color-led coalitions are coming together in the first 100 hours after electing a new president to support an agenda for Black lives, immigrants, Muslims, Latinas … against rape culture and a sexist, racist, xenophobic policy,” said Agunda Okeyo, an activist, organizer, and African immigrant in the city who told Rewire in a phone interview that Trump is “a danger to democracy.”

Thousands will mobilize nationwide to tell the country that the leadership of women of color will not end at the ballot box. These first 100 hours are the kickoff to demand accountability from all holders of public office and to spread an anti-hate agenda that includes a vision for Black lives, common sense immigration reform, and an end to rape culture, according to the release.

A press conference by women of color leaders was held in Manhattan November 9. Speakers included My Muslim Vote’s Linda Sarsour, Demos President Heather McGhee, Movement for Black Lives co-founder Thenjiwe Tameika McHarris, Black Lives Matter co-founder Opal Tometi, and Demos Vice President Jodeen Olguin-Tayler, as well as survivors of sexual assault and immigrant rights leaders.

Leaders representing Black Lives Matter, Demos, Forward Together, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance worked together in the week leading up to the election to raise the national profile of women-led organizing. Those efforts culminated in the #Our100 pledge and a wave of actions nationwide.

“We have a lot more work to do, to build the America we deserve. But we are strong, determined, and we are just getting started,” said Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter and one of the organizers of this action.

Viviana Bernal of Demos and the #GOPHandsOffMe campaign told Rewire she is participating to end the culture of violence, rape culture, and sexual assault that many women have spoken up against since the Trump tapes went public.

“We believe Donald Trump basically admitted to sexual assault. Women of color and sexual assault victims felt triggered,” Bernal said during a phone interview. “He has been saying really racist, sexist things all along. It is only when his comments violated the rights of white women that it led to public outcry.”

The women of color participating in the campaign are outraged at all his vitriolic statements against marginalized populations and want to “center our voices and speak out,” she added.

“This election was a referendum on the politics of hate and division. We have a long way to go,” said Ai-jen Poo, executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

In conjunction with the launch of #Our100, the leaders will release polling data from Celinda Lake about women of color voters and an open letter to the nation to be published in major national publications this week.

“Our work did not start, and it will not end at the ballot box,” said Olguín-Tayler, a survivor of sexual assault, in a statement. “We are women who lead organizations, work in Hollywood, teach in our universities, women who are ordained faith leaders, who run large businesses; women who are mothers, who take care of our land and our elders. We came together across our differences to write this letter to our fellow Americans because we know we can, and must, do better. We need a nation that does right by women. Because when women of color are doing well, when Black and Muslim and Indigenous women in particular are doing well—this whole country will be well.”

“We stand determined to hold the vision of a just, inclusive America worthy of ALL of her people,” McGhee said in the release. “No longer can anybody sit on the sidelines. This election will be the last stand of the past, and tomorrow is already being born.”

Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing

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Revolutionary Strategies to Beat the Rising Right Wing, was a nationwide conference call organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Sunday October 30, 2016.

What's the nature of this right-wing threat? What has this election cycle changed about the political terrain we're fighting on? How do we need to prepare for whats coming after the election? Hear about these crucial questions from our panel of top political strategists, including Nelini Stamp, Bill Fletcher, Jr., Linda Burnham, and Sendolo Diaminah.

Those indicating interest in attending, on Facebook included Opal Ayo.[5]

Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward

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Now What? Defying Trump and the Left's Way Forward was a phone in webinar organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization in the wake of the 2016 election.

Now what? We’re all asking ourselves that question in the wake of Trump’s victory. We’ve got urgent strategizing and work to do, together. Join Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson of the Movement for Black Lives and Freedom Road, Calvin Cheung-Miaw, Jodeen Olguin-Taylor of Mijente and WFP, Joe Schwartz of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Sendolo Diaminah of Freedom Road for a discussion of what happened, and what we should be doing to build mass defiance. And above all, how do we build the Left in this, which we know is the only solution to the crises we face?

This event will take place Tuesday November 15, 2016 at 9pm Eastern/8pm Central/6pm Pacific.

Those invited, on Facebook included Opal Ayo.[6]

References