Launched in February 2015 by AAPF and CISPS, the #SayHerName campaign aims to bring awareness to the names and stories of Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence, and to provide support to their families.
Black women and girls as young as 7 and as old as 93 have been killed by the police, though we rarely hear their names. Knowing their names is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for lifting up their stories which in turn provides a much clearer view of the wide ranging circumstances that make Black bodies disproportionately subject to police violence. To lift up their stories, we need to know who they are, how they lived, and why they suffered at the hands of police.
On May 20th, 2015, AAPF hosted #SayHerName: A Vigil in Memory of Black Women and Girls Killed by the Police at Union Square in New York City. For the first time, family members of Black women killed by police came together from across the country for a powerful vigil designed to draw attention to their loved ones' stories.The family members of Alberta Spruill, Rekia Boyd, Shantel Davis, Shelley Frey, Kayla Moore, Kyam Livingston, Miriam Carey, Michelle Cusseaux, and Tanisha Anderson were present and supported by hundreds of attendees, activists, and stakeholders.
That same week, AAPF and CISPS released a report entitled "Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women," which outlined the goals and objectives of the #SayHerName movement. The report provides an analytical framework for understanding black women's susceptibility to police brutality and state-sanctioned violence, and it also offers some suggestions on how to effectively mobilize various communities and empower them to advocate for racial justice.
Over the past three years, the #SayHerName campaign has expanded and increased its focus on direct advocacy. In November 2016, and March 2018, AAPF hosted its annual #SayHerName Mothers Weekend, bringing together a group of mothers who have lost their daughters to police violence in New York City. The weekends served as a chance to not only learn more about the specific needs of the family members of Black women who are victims of racist state violence, but also to begin to construct a network and community of support.
The work of #SayHerName continues. Including Black women and girls in police violence and gender violence discourses sends the powerful message that indeed all Black lives matter. If our collective outrage around cases of police violence is meant to serve as a warning to the state that its agents cannot kill without consequence, our silence around the cases of Black women and girls sends the message that certain deaths do not merit repercussions. Please join us in our efforts to advance a gender-inclusive narrative in the movement for Black lives.