By Taylor Johnson and Ashley Rowles

Award-winning author and Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors gave an eye-opening keynote on Feb. 7 in the Bronco Student Center’s (BSC) Ursa Major suite, aimed at empowering students to advocate for the change they want to see in society. 

“My goal is to organize you to be a movement leader,” Cullors said.

Patrisse Cullors said she prides herself in spending every day of her life fighting for the lives of black people. (Taylor Johnson / The Poly Post)

Cullors became an activist in her teen years, after her brother was incarcerated and brutalized by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department.

“How am I going to change the material conditions for black people?” Cullors asked. “How is the work I’m doing now going to impact the world 150 years from now?”

After George Zimmerman, a Florida neighborhood watch captain, shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed young black man, Cullors was so astonished by the rampant racial profiling in the case that she decided to organize the movement we now know as Black Lives Matter. 

Cullors said she prides herself in spending every day of her life fighting for the lives of black people. 

With more than 40 chapters of the organization across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, Cullors has become a campaigner for the black community across the globe.

After her success with Black Lives Matter, Cullors, like many others, experienced a profound feeling of defeat during the most recent presidential election. She even recalled how she contemplated moving out of the United States after the 2016 election, but she changed her mind.

“I made the commitment to show up not only for my movement, but myself, and my family,” Cullors said.

Opening the floor to questions, students were able to get more personalized information from Cullors, who gave insight on how to keep activism going.  

Before wrapping up the night, Cullors signed copies of her book “When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir,” and took photos with attendees. 

Maddison Cannon, third-year kinesiology major and social justice leader at the African American Student Center, gets her book signed by Patrisse Cullors at the Bronco LEADership Conference. (Taylor Johnson / The Poly Post)

Leading up to the keynote, the Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers held a Bronco LEADership Conference with a variety of workshops teaching students how to become empowered forerunners of social justice. 

“My goal for this conference is for everyone who attended to walk away feeling empowered, commit to engaging with this community, commit to having self-reflection and growth and to use the leadership concepts they have learned,” said Tari Hunter, director of the Office Student Life and Cultural Centers.

There were activities such as socialism and leadership-inspired workshops where students were given hands-on opportunities to engage with leadership organizations on campus. 

One that stood out was the Colorful Flags workshop with Renford Reese, a political science professor. 

According to Reese’s website, Colorful Flags is a human relations program that fosters healthy ethnic relations by teaching specific cultural facts and basic human relations statements. 

“We value diversity but we can’t even say hello in different languages,” Reese said. “It is simple but powerful at the same time.” 

Reese said it is important to stress the significance of learning other languages to empower and internalize positive feelings with oneself and others. 

“Everybody complains about the problem but they don’t want to do something about the solution,” Reese said. 

To learn about future events or conferences visit or email 

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