Since police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown two years ago today in Ferguson, Mo., the words “Black Lives Matter” have morphed from a public outcry into a national movement, says USA Today. Through a decentralized collection of grass-roots activists and groups, Black Lives Matter protesters have rallied in many cities where African-Americans have been killed in police-involved cases, including Baltimore, Minneapolis and Baton Rouge, La.
Activists who drive the Black Lives Matter movement and academics who study it say it all began with Brown’s death, when images of his body lying on the street of the St. Louis suburb and accounts of his killing spread widely through Twitter and sparked protests and media attention. #BlackLivesMatter, the now-iconic Twitter hashtag, first surfaced in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old. After fading from usage, the phrase roared back in the months after Brown’s death and gained traction in protests of other police-involved shootings around the country.