Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza explains how the movement has evolved

The author of "The Purpose of Power" discusses why the Black Lives Matter movement feels different now compared to when it began seven years ago.
9:42 | 10/20/20

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Transcript for Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza explains how the movement has evolved
In 2013 the black lives matter movement began as a mission to find justice for 17-year-old trayvon martin after George Zimmerman was acquitted for shooting and killing him. But in the past seven years it's grown into a social and political force for change, and a rallying cry at protests in America and around the world. We're joined now by one of the movement's co-founders and author of "The purpose of power." Please welcome Alicia Garza. Hey, welcome to "The view." Thank you so much. This started as a hashtag, which I always forget, seven years ago. Now it's become according to many one of the largest movements in U.S. History. "Time magazine" named you one of their 100 most influential people this year. How does that make you feel when you see what you helped to begin, not just in the united States, but worldwide? It's incredibly humbling. I'm honored really to be the smallest part of something so huge and so powerful. You know, people ask me all the time how do I turn a hashtag into a movement? One of the things I say in my book is that you cannot turn hashtags into movements. The only thing that will do that is people. So for us, I think, we're so grateful to be a part of this moment and we have so much work to do. As you all said earlier, this is a moment of incredible crisis, but also incredible opportunity. My hope is this book helps light the way towards the freedom we all want so desperately. Alicia, black lives matter protests have been happening all over the country for several years now, from Michael Brown in Ferguson, to Sandra bland in Texas, Eric Garner right here in New York. You have said the movement and these protests feels different somehow right now. Why do you say that? Certainly. Seven years ago black lives matter was not necessarily a household name. It was incredibly controversial. A lot of people couldn't wrap their mouths around the words black lives matter. Now seven years later I think black lives matter is in the muscle memory of this country. It has become a kitchen table conversation that's being held around the world. With that being said, I think we also see black lives matter spreading across demographics. Black lives matter now really represents what I think is a majority value in this country. I think we'll see this in the upcoming election cycle. I'm excited we've come this far. I know we have more work to do. Even though this movement is in the muscle memory of this country we're still having to fight to make sure that black lives matter, that black communities are able to live with dignity and respect and we're still fighting for survival. Movements are about putting more power into the hands of more people so survival is not our only option, but we're able to live full and dignified lives, all of us together. Alicia, I'm so happy you're here today. I read your book in a day. It's absolutely fantastic. I believe it's going to be a guide for organizers going forward and especially young people. 55% of Americans say they support black lives matter. It is a majority feeling now. The movement has faced criticism from this administration, from trump, and other conservatives. They call it a marxist and terrorist organization that wants to tear down the fabric of America and destroy the nuclear family. You stepped away from the day to day operations of black lives matter, the organization, over three years ago. Tell me, how do you respond to criticism like that which just seems totally off the wall and just unfair in my view? Well, you know, this is now the second election cycle where black lives matter has been used as a political football. For everybody here who is watching and for each of you, I think each of you know deeply what it feels like to have stories told about you without you. For me, this book was a cathartic process. I thought this book was going to be about black lives matter and the origins of the movement. It actually didn't turn out that way. This book when I started writing it, the first story I told was about my mother who taught me everything about what it means to be a strong black woman in this society, a society that depends on black women to survive, but doesn't value black women and our contributions. You know, I basically think that, you know, we're in a political moment where this president and this administration pedals in lies and misinformation and disinformation. I talk in my book about how stories like this matter. They shape people's perceptions, opinions, but most of all they shape people's actions. Unfortunately these stories have put my family at risk. They put me at risk and for many activists around the country. It's not just myself. Luckily what I also know is anything that gets that much attention, anything that's being attacked directly in that kind of way must be doing something right. So for me I'm just keeping on and I'm continuing to push. I mean, I'm a black woman in America. I know what it means to be malaligned. I take it as inspiration to get going and keep growing. Everybody who is part of this movement knows what we're about and what we stand for. This book is my opportunity to say from my own mouth what I stand for. The black lives matter supports defunding the police. That phrase has created controversy with some people saying it's anti-police and in favor of getting rid of the police. Tell us what defund the police means and is it possible to support black lives matter and the police at the same time. You know, there's a few things I think are important to know here. Number one, I don't think we're confused about defunding means and particularly in communities that have been left out and left behind for generations due to rules that have been rigged against us, based on things we have no control over. I think we're clear about what defunding means. In my community in Oakland, California my community has been defunded for decades. We're one of the only communities in the country that has a police department just for our school district and yet at the same time the students in my school district have to share books. They don't have their own books in order to pursue an education. In my community there aren't full service grocery stores for some communities. In my communities there isn't access to health care and hospitals and tent cities have erupted across my neighborhood in a way I haven't seen in my lifetime. It's important for us to figure out what that's about. My community also, you know, gives more than 40% of our general budgets to policing. I see police getting tanks and other military weapons, yet my neighbors can't find affordable housing. What I say in my book is that it's important for us to understand how these systems function and what they function for. The nation is having an important conversation about public safety and what it is that actually keeps communities safe and dignified. Frankly, I also talk in my book about how systems are not about individuals. I know so many black families across the country have members of law enforcement in our families. Yet I jt read a story from los Angeles yesterday where a young protester who was hit by a military-grade weapon during a protest had an uncle in the police department that authorized that. These are the kinds of connections we see across the nation and frankly these systems are designed to function exactly how they function right now. I'm not here to talk about black lives matter. I want to talk more about my book, but I will say that, you know, systems are not about individuals. Just like racism isn't about individuals. It isn't about good or bad people. It's about rules that have been rigged against our communities for many years. The conversation that's happening right now is important. I'm proud of the movement for black lives and black lives matter for introducing the breathe act which I consider to be our generation's version of the civil rights act. There are concrete solutions to making communities safe, while also decreasing the amount of money that we invest in a punishment economy.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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