Rising up, 2012-2016

After death From Trivon Martin, Black Twitter launched a campaign online campaign in support of Martin and his family. As the outcry escalated, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Martin, was arrested – the basis for what could become the largest social justice movement of our time.

Andre Brock, author Distributed blackness: African American cyberculture: Many early Black Tech adopters were really skeptical of what Twitter could do. Like black people were, this is no serious place.

Trendy Clayton, host of the podcast Strong Black Legends: Once the innovation of the platform stopped, I think it was like this, right, now what do we do with our voices that we got it? The assassination of Trivon Martin is when I first saw the potential of Black Twitter and the potential of Twitter to make a real offline flight change.

Wesley Lori, 60 minutes + Correspondent: My first tweet about Trivon Martin said, “We can’t stop talking about races until a 17-year-old black boy can go to any store in America to buy skits without a gun.” It’s one of the first examples of getting used to the idea that I can think and that those messages were bigger than me and could be found by like-minded people participating in the dialogue.

Jamila Lamiaux, slate columnist: If it weren’t for Black Twitter, George Zimmerman wouldn’t have been arrested.

Clayton: I remember watching the trial via Twitter. I remember seeing Rachel Jantel’s testimony and my heart was broken by the situation she was in. It was a great vehicle not only for social change but also for healing – being able to mourn and mourn and process with people. It really changed my mind about what was for Twitter. I guess, for me it was entertainment before.

Naima Kochrane, Music and Culture Journalist: That’s probably why we started considering hashtag activism now, if you want to call it that.

One year later, on August 9, 2014, 18-year-old Michael Brown, who had just graduated from high school a week earlier, was killed in Ferguson, Missouri. He was shot six times.

Sarah J. Jackson, co # Hashtag Activism: Network of Race and Gender Justice: One of the very first tweets to use “Ferguson” – people didn’t even start using the hashtag #Ferguson, they were just using the word – was a young woman who was one of Michael Brown’s neighbors. She set foot on the steps of her house, took a picture and originally described what she saw. She did not have many followers. It was not impressive. She was not an activist. She was just a community member.

Jonetta Elzi, St. Louis worker: I was running out of the past, and I remember there are cracking jokes on Twitter. Then a woman DM me. She was like, “Netta, I saw this picture floating from my timeline. I think you should watch it. “

April Governance, Diversity and Inclusion Advocate: I saw someone post something like, Oops, I think they shot someone outside my window. And he posted a picture of Mike Brown’s lifeless body on the ground. I think he took that picture from inside his apartment apartment.