“All I had was my Twitter and my Facebook and my Tumblr and Instagram. So, I felt and I really believed that someone, somewhere would care about what I was saying.”
This is what Johnetta Elzie says in a new video from the New York Times on the anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, reflecting on the year since the activist and organizer took to her social media pages and galvanized the growth of the online component of the movement to end racialized police and vigilante violence.
In that year, social media users like her, DeRay Mckesson (with whom Elzie co-edits the “This is the Movement” newsletter), and Zellie Imani—all three of whom were featured in the Times’s video—took to the heart of protests around the country and used their platforms to spread news about deaths in police custody, violence against African-Americans and resistance to white supremacy. In a year, the three helped redefine the importance of social media to resistance movements and contemporary activism. They demanded change and faced police crackdowns alongside protestors in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston and other sites of murders by police. Through it all, they underscored the importance of hashtags like #ICantBreathe and #SayHerName to the increased public visibility of state violence against African-Americans.
Take a look at this poignant video above, featuring commentary from the three activisits on the year of activism and ongoing struggles.