Dr. Melina Abdullah with Chuck D, Dr. Cornel West, and Tavis Smiley at the People’s Justice Festival. (Melina Abdullah/Black Lives Matter)

On Saturday July 15, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles celebrated its 10th anniversary with the People’s Justice Festival in Leimert Park.  

According to BLMLA organizers, the advocacy group was “birthed July 13, 2013 in Leimert Park to build ‘a movement, not a moment’ to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people in the wake of the acquittal of #TrayvonMartin’s murderer.”  

The festival brought together freedom fighters, families, musicians, and businesses to observe the organization’s decade of service to the L.A. community. Event sponsors included KBLA 1580 AM, the area’s only Black-owned talk radio station. 

The community listened to powerful speeches from Black Lives Matter LA co-founder Dr. Melina Abdullah, Dr. Cornel West, and Cop City Vote. Also, legendary rapper Cuck D of Public Enemy fame gave an electrifying performance and Van Lathan Jr. served as the emcee. While the community absorbed words of wisdom from the day’s speakers, musical performances were also given throughout the day from many local musicians.  

Community members march with the African American Flag. (Denver Mackey/L.A. Sentinel)

The People’s Justice Festival featured various spaces for the community to develop skills, listen to a range of community leaders, and learn about the many services that Black Lives Matter offers. The Center for Black Power hosted panel discussion on “Birthing a Movement, Not a Moment” and “How We Get Free: Doing the Work.”  

In addition, the Healing Space, which featured panels on “Healing Justice” and self-care, encouraged people who define themselves as social justice warriors to remain focused on taking care of the body and the mind when doing this work.  

The skill building space at the Hot and Cool Café offered workshops on organizing and community building, and lastly, the Solidarity Space at the Umoja Center presented panels on “Legal Solidarity with Black Liberation,” “Talking to Your Folks: Encouraging Folks to Come Alongside in Black Liberation Struggle,” and “Safety and Security Alongside Black Liberation.”  

Youth enjoy basketball during the festival. (Denver Mackey/L.A. Sentinel)

Young people enjoyed the The Kids Village, which included jump houses, rides, and games sponsored by Councilwoman Heather Hutt and the staff of Council District 10.  

 “When Black lives aren’t considered, Black Lives Matter is always at the forefront, demanding that Black voices and experiences be heard,” said Hutt during the event.  

“I am proud and thankful to be a part of their 10th anniversary celebration, and commemorate the significance of this movement, and the profound impact it has had on the culture, our community, and the world.”  

With over 2,500 people in attendance, the People’s Justice Festival was a cultivation of soul, community, and liberation and Black Lives Matter Los Angeles continues to be space for knowledge and connection for the Black community.  

Follow Black Lives Matter LA on Instagram @blmlosangeles and visit https://blmgrassroots.org/ for more information!