Since I was 15 years old, a sophomore in high school, I have been involved in racial justice work, attending protests, and organizing with my fellow peers. Nearly seven years later, we are thrust into the Civil Rights Movement of the 21st century — a movement that is building on the foundation of the previous one during the 1960s, but with a renewed focus on the youth and an intentional purpose of elevating the voices of black womxn and black LGBTQ folks. What makes this wave of activism different is that the entire world is watching.
Given the backdrop of COVID-19, and the world slowing down, people are forced to face the reality of America’s historical wrongdoings. Americans everywhere are coming to terms with the long-ignored injustices that propelled protests to happen across the country in every single state. This movement is different in execution and in who the key players are, but the sentiment has remained the same over 400 years. And the trauma is only compounded more and more.
Strategy for Black Lives was birthed from a conversation with my long time best friend Patrick Reyes, who brought to my attention the George Floyd video. To this day, I still have not watched the Floyd video in its entirety. At that moment, we verbally committed to organizing a response among our peers to address the injustices happening right before our eyes. Afterward, we looped in Timothy Hunter, an amazing student activist who I’ve worked with on numerous occasions, and a coalition of other student leaders across New York. We created a list of demands. The following day we attended a press conference alongside Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and released our platform, officially kicking off Strategy for Black Lives to the public.
I am humbled by the support that Strategy for Black Lives has gotten in the last few months. I honestly never expected things to develop as rapidly as they did, but I am grateful to be a part of something bigger and to stand for black lives all across the spectrum. My background is around education advocacy with IntegrateNYC, and political strategy with the University Student Senate for CUNY. I believe that perspective is what appeals to our supporters in that we recognize making change for our communities is going to take more than just showing up to protests. We need to additionally be civically engaged and advocate for policies across all levels of government. Our catchphrase, “it’s a strategy,” embodies that sentiment. We are looking at the long game and want to develop longstanding solutions that provide equity for black lives. This is just the beginning.
Historically, youth lead the world’s movements. As the inheritors of society, we have the vision for what we’d like that society to look like. Our voices are often excluded from the decision-making process, while at the same time, we bear the brunt of those decisions. After the video of George Floyd’s death was released, it was the youth who took to the streets, organized, and called on officials for policies that would make sure justice is served and Black lives are protected. Strategy for Black Lives is the embodiment of youth leaders coming together from multiple backgrounds for the purpose of uplifting and protecting Black lives. It is a sight to see, and I am positive that all of us will continue this work long after we are no longer youth. This is not just a moment but a movement, not just a sprint, but a marathon.
Frantzy Luzincourt is 22 years old. Luzincourt was born in Brooklyn to Haitian immigrants and has dedicated his life to racial equity and social justice, especially in education. Beginning when he founded his school’s first-ever Black student union when he was 15 in 2014, Frantzy’s teenage years have been spent organizing for a youth-led education equity program, Integrate NYC. In May 2020, he founded Strategy for Black Lives, a grassroots group making a powerful difference in its short lifespan, garnering CNN and other attention already.