After eight years with Black Lives Matter, out cofounder Patrisse Cullors, who’s been with the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation for about six years, announced Thursday that she is resigning. The move comes amid but not because of “right-wing attacks that tried to discredit [her] character,” according to the Associated Press.
“I’ve created the infrastructure and the support, and the necessary bones and foundation, so that I can leave,” Cullors told the AP. “It feels like the time is right.”
Cullors said she’s been planning her departure for the past year from the organization she founded with Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi. She said she’s leaving in part to focus on upcoming projects including a TV deal with Warner Bros. and the release of her book The Abolitionist’s Handbook, due out this fall.
BLM organizer Monifa Bandele and chief strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies in Jackson, Miss. Makani Themba will come on as interim senior executives as Cullors steps away as of today.
“I think both of them come with not only a wealth of movement experience, but also a wealth of executive experience,” Cullors said.
In 2020, during the reckoning around police violence against Black people, spurred by the police killings of George Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Tony McDade, and others, BLM raised over $90 million. The organization and Cullors have come under scrutiny with some Black activists demanding more transparency about why more of those funds didn’t go to the families of those killed by police, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“I know some of [the families] are feeling exploited, their pain exploited, and that’s not something that I ever want to be affiliated with,” said Rev. T. Sheri Dickerson, who is president of an Oklahoma City BLM chapter. Dickerson is also a representative of the #BLM10, a group that has demanded more transparency from the foundation.
The right-leaning New York Post attacked Cullors in an expose earlier this year over her finances. She had just spent $1.4 million on property in Los Angeles. Cullors called the attack “racist” and “sexist.”
“I think that is critique that is wanting. The way that I live my life is a direct support to Black people, including my Black family members, first and foremost,” Cullors said on the show Black News Tonight. “For so many Black folks who are able to invest in themselves and their communities, they choose to invest in their family, and that is what I have chosen to do.”