On July 13, 2013, three black women – Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometti – turned the Black Lives Matter hashtag into a global movement. To commemorate the founding of the Black Lives Matter movement and raise awareness for its efforts to combat systemic racism and boost resiliency in the African- American community, the full Assembly on Monday voted 53-0-18 to approve a measure (AJR-171) to designate July 13th each year as “Black Lives Matter Day” in New Jersey.
The measure’s sponsors, Assembly Democrats Shanique Speight (D-Essex), Britnee Timberlake (D-Essex, Passaic), Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic), Angela McKnight (D-Hudson), Linda Carter (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union), Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D-Mercer, Hunterdon), Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic), Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris), Jamel Holley (D-Union) and Herb Conaway (D-Burlington) released the following statement:
“George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. We know their names because leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement have helped bring their stories to the forefront. We say their names to remember their stories, and work to bring them justice. We continue to say their names in the hopes that no black person will ever suffer in the same way again.
“The momentum we’ve seen around Black Lives Matter in the wake of these tragic, unjust deaths is promising and exhilarating, but we must make sure this is not just a moment in time.
“In the face of COVID-19, we’ve been talking a lot lately about going back to ‘normal,’ but ‘normal’ wasn’t working for the black community. ‘Normal’ means systemic racism woven into the fabric of every aspect of our society. It’s in the criminal justice system, which failed George, Breonna and Ahmaud; it’s in healthcare, where black Americans have less access to health insurance and quality care; it’s in education, where black students are more likely to attend underfunded schools; and in housing, where we continue to feel the effects of redlining in communities across the nation.
“Black lives matter, everywhere and every day. It’s time we in New Jersey show we stand in solidarity with this movement by designating a Black Lives Matter day of action each year. This fight doesn’t end when the protests wane or when corrupt police officers are brought to justice. We must always stand up to racism, bigotry and hatred.”
The measure now goes to the Senate for further review.
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