Patrisse Cullors (born June 20, 1983) is an American artist and activist and a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement. Cullors created the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag in 2013 and has written and spoken widely about the movement. Other topics on which Cullors advocates include prison abolition in Los Angeles and LGBTQ rights. Cullors integrates ideas from critical theory, as well as social movements around the world, in her activism. She is the author of When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir.
Along with community organizers and friends Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi, Cullors founded Black Lives Matter. The three started the movement out of frustration over George Zimmerman's acquittal in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Cullors created the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter in 2013 to corroborate Garza's use of the phrase in making a Facebook post about the Martin case. Cullors further described her impetus for pushing for African-American rights stemming from her 19-year-old brother being brutalized during imprisonment in Los Angeles County jails.
Cullors credits social media as being instrumental in revealing violence against African Americans, saying: "On a daily basis, every moment, black folks are being bombarded with images of our death ... It's literally saying, 'Black people, you might be next. You will be next, but in hindsight, it will be better for our nation, the less of our kind, the safer it will be.
In 2017, she said that the movement would not meet with United States President Donald Trump just as it wouldn't have met with Adolf Hitler, as Trump "is literally the epitome of evil, all the evils of this country — be it racism, capitalism, sexism, homophobia.
She has served as executive director of the Coalition to End Sheriff Violence in L.A. Jails. The group advocated for a civilian commission to oversee the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in order to curb abuses by officers. By organizing former jail inmates as a voting bloc, the group hoped to sway the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to create such a commission, as well as gather enough votes to elect a replacement for L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca, who resigned in 2014 for separate reasons. However, the group did not succeed in its efforts.
Cullors co-founded the prison activist organization Dignity and Power Now, which succeeded in advocating for a civilian oversight board.
She is also a board member of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, having led a think tank on state and vigilante violence for 2014 Without Borders Conference. In October 2020, she launched a production company with a deal with Warner Bros. Television.