Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

The Powerful Voices Fighting For Change

From DJs and duchesses to activists and academics

By giulia Sohi-Isolani
10 June 2020

As the world responds to the murder of George Floyd with protests and digital demonstrations calling to end discriminatory police brutality and systemic racism, Black voices are being amplified more than ever. Particularly for anyone who isn’t Black, now is the time to listen to those voices, digest what is being said, and act on it to encourage change. Here are some of the most powerful messages we’ve heard in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

John Boyega, actor


‘I need you guys to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing. And that isn’t the case anymore. There is never a case anymore… we are a physical representation for our support for George Floyd. Black men, we need to take care of our Black women. They are our heart. They are our future. We cannot demonise our own. We are the pillars of the family. Imagine this: a nation that is set up with individual families that are thriving, that are healthy, that communicate, that raise their children in love… Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded.’  

Bryan Stevenson, civil-rights lawyer and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative


‘We need to reckon with our history of racial injustice. I think everything we are seeing is a symptom of a larger disease. We have never honestly addressed all the damage that was done during the two and a half centuries that we enslaved Black people. The great evil of American slavery wasn’t the involuntary servitude; it was the fiction that Black people aren’t as good as white people, and aren’t the equals of white people, and are less evolved, less human, less capable, less worthy, less deserving than white people… It’s not just anger over what happened to George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery. It is anger about continuing to live in a world where there is this presumption of dangerousness and guilt wherever you go.’

Megan Markle, Duchess of Sussex


‘The only wrong thing to say is to say nothing. Because George Floyd's life mattered, and Breonna Taylor's life mattered, and Philando Castile's life mattered, and Tamir Rice's life mattered, and so did so many other people whose names we know and whose names we do not know. Stephon Clark, his life mattered.….. Now you get to be part of rebuilding and I know sometimes people say “how many times do we need to rebuild?” But you know what? We are going to rebuild and rebuild and rebuild until it is rebuilt. Because when the foundation is broken so are we.’ 

Michelle Obama


‘Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of colour to deal with it. It’s up to all of us – Black, white, everyone – no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.’  

Michelle Alexander, civil rights and author of The New Jim Crow 

‘Our only hope for our collective liberation is a politics of deep solidarity rooted in love. In recent days, we’ve seen what it looks like when people of all races, ethnicities, genders and backgrounds rise up together, standing in solidarity for justice, protesting, marching and singing together, even as SWAT teams and tanks roll in. We’ve seen our faces in another American mirror — a reflection of the best of who we are and what we can become. These images may not have dominated the media coverage, but I’ve glimpsed in a foggy mirror scenes of a beautiful, courageous nation struggling to be born.’ 


‘We need justice for George Floyd. We all witnessed his murder in broad daylight. We're broken and we're disgusted, we cannot normalise this pain. No more senseless killings of human beings. No more seeing people of colour as less than human. We can no longer look away.’ 


‘I was struck at the news of yet another brutalised Black body. Knowing how the world enjoys Blackness, and knowing what happened to George, we, Black people, get the feeling that people want our culture, but they do not want us. In other words, you want my talent, but you don’t want me.’  

Opal Tometi, Co-founder, Black Lives Matter movement


‘We need the harm to stop in our communities. We need the damage to be repaired. We need to be able to have the opportunity to have a life of dignity, and the possibility to thrive.’ 

Patrisse Cullors, Co-founder Black Lives Matter


‘Let’s be honest. Black pain, grief and rage are not only dismissed by elected officials, our response to those feelings are also criminalised. To feel is the most fundamental human desire. Yet, we are consistently punished for expressing our feelings and desires. I desperately want us to feel and be free. But this country’s existence is predicated on our lack of freedom. The only way y’all get to be free is if Black folks are unfree. That shit. That shit is truly painful.’ 

Alikah Hughes, American writer, comedian, Youtuber and podcaster 

‘If you want to play piano, but you’re bad at playing piano, you practice and you get better. Don’t be the kind of white person who doesn’t post out of fear of f***ing up. If you want to support black people, but you’re bad at supporting black people, practice and get better.’

Cornel West , American Philosopher and political activist


‘There is a marvelous new moral militancy, a daily intensity in terms of peaceful protests, and a local organizing of groups that in the past would hardly talk to each other but that are now together struggling, walking the streets together, and going to jail together. If we’re more concerned about the property and spillover than the poverty, decrepit school systems, dilapidated housing, massive unemployment and underemployment, we’re going to be doing this every five, every 10, every 20 years.’


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