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Patrisse and Rodney are the creators of #BlackLivesMatter and Founders of the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLM).
The Founders are travelling to Australia to receive the 2017 Sydney Peace Prize. The Prize is Australia’s only international Prize for peace and is awarded by the Sydney Peace Foundation, a not for profit Foundation of the University of Sydney. The Sydney Peace Prize has been awarded since 1998 with support from the City of Sydney. Past recipients include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson, Arundhati Roy, Patrick Dodson, Professor Noam Chomsky, and Naomi Klein.
The relevant Jury citation and information can be found at the below link:
Patrisse Cullors is a artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles. Cofounder of Black Lives Matter, she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and an NAACP History Maker. She’s received many awards for activism and movement building, including being named by the Los Angeles Times as a Civil Rights Leader for the 21st Century and a Glamour 2016 Woman of the Year.
A self-described wife of Harriet Tubman, Patrisse Cullors has always been traveling on the path to freedom. Growing up with several of her loved ones experiencing incarceration and brutality at the hands of the state and coming out as queer at an early age, she has since worked tirelessly promoting law enforcement accountability across the world while focusing on addressing trauma and building on the resilience and health of the communities most affected.
When Patrisse was 16-years-old she came out as queer and moved out of her home in the Valley. She formed close connections with other young, queer, woman who were dealing with the challenges of poverty and being Black and Brown in the USA. At 22-years-old Patrisse was recognized for her work as a transformative organizer by receiving the Mario Savio Young Activist Award. A Fulbright Scholarship recipient, Patrisse received her degree in religion and philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2012. That same year she curated her first performance art piece that fearlessly addressed the violence of incarceration, STAINED: An Intimate Portrayal of State Violence. Touring that performance lead to the formation of the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence and eventually her non-profit Dignity and Power Now, both of whom have achieved several victories for the abolitionist movement including the formation of Los Angeles’ first civilian oversight commission over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Rodney Diverlus is an organizer, dancer, and choreographer/curator. Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Rodney first moved to the United States as a refugee, but ended his migration journey in Toronto, Canada. There his work is anchored an artivist framework of transformative art and community organizing practice.
In 2014, Rodney co-founded Black Lives Matter – Toronto, the first international iteration of the Black Lives Matter globally. As a lead chapter organizer, Rodney’s works clusters on campaign development, communications and media relations, action coordination, and internal chapter management. BLMTO is a force in shifting public policy, implementing legislative changes, and challenging the cultural myth of Canadian benevolence as means of masking systemic anti-Black racism. Currently, he is the Lead Canadian Organizer with the Black Lives Matter Global Network, in which he supports Canada’s local chapters and organizers in developing strategy, infrastructure, and initiatives specific to the Canadian context.
He has served on the executive committees of various not-for-profit Board of Directors, including the Secretary for the Ontario Youthline, Vice-President Equity & President of the Ryerson Students’ Union, and Chairperson of the Palin Foundation. He was a commissioner with the Canadian Federations of Students – Ontario. There his work was anchored on addressing access to education issues for communities from the margins, strategy and campaign development, post-secondary policy, and reshaping the Federation’s social justice infrastructure.
An ardent artivist, Rodney is toggles between his community organizing and his work as a multidisciplinary artist, storyteller, movement curator/choreographer, writer, and arts educator. He uses his body and voice as a site to host and interpret text & rhythms, weaving in ancestral and diasporic narratives. His work draws on and weaves in a distinct movement aesthetic rooted in jazz, Afrikanic approaches to movement, and contemporary sensibilities, spoken word/oral traditions, and digital media.
Rodney’s work as an organizer and artist grapples with the visions of a decolonized and globalized Black diasporic existence, peppered with critical deconstructions of Blackness, Cairbbeanness, queerness, migration, and the decolonial process. His work envisions a world where all Black lives are free.
A short reflection to set the scene of the Address and give important local context about the issues of Indigenous justice in Australia, will be delivered by Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA.
Dr Jackie Huggins AM FAHA is a Bidjara/Birrigubba Juru woman from Queensland. She is currently the Co-Chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples. Her work has spanned over four decades whereby she was awarded for her work in reconciliation, social justice, women’s studies and literacy.
Her previous Boards and Commissions have included Co-Commissioner for the Inquiry Into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children From Their Families, AIATSIS, Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Co-Chair Reconciliation Australia, Telstra Foundation.